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The Great 

William A. Fairburn 

Frederick The Great 


i^^l ^ 

William A. Fairburn 

The Nation Press, Inc. 
New York 

Copyright, 1919 

By William Armstrong Fairburn 

All rights reserved 

Written during the season of 1918 and set 
in type November-December, 1918. 



'History repeats itself/^ 

'History is philosophy teaching by examples/' 

— Dionysius of Halicarnassus. 

'If men could learn from history^ what lessons it 
might teach us/' — Coleridge, 

'What want these outlaws conquerors should have 
But history's purchased page to call them great?" 

— Byron. 

'There is such a thing as the writing of history ac- 
cording to the lights of Imperial Germany . . . 
There is also history written with an eye to the 
court/' — Nietzsche, 

fEB 24 1919 


Chapter Page 
I Frederick as Crown Prince 1 

II Frederick as King. Repudiation of 

his Anti-Macchiavel Doctrine 11 

III The First Silesian Adventure 24 

IV The Second Silesian War. Frederick 

the Typical HohenzoUern 31 

V Conditions Leading Up to the Seven 

Year War 40 

VI Saxony, the Belgium of the Seven Year 

War 44 

VII The Seven Year War. Events of 1757 

and 1758 53 

VIII The Seven Year War. Campaign of 

1759. Weak Policy of Allied Forces 61 

IX The Seven Year War. Campaigns of 

1760 and 1761 69 

X The End of the Seven Year War, 

1762-1763 75 

XI Frederick the Soldier 81 

XII Frederick's Ideas of Reconstruction. 90 

XIII The Period of 1763-1779 94 

XIV Maria Theresa. Frederick's Last 

Years 1780-1786 102 


THE father of Frederick the Great, Frederick 
WilUam I, was a violent bully, notorious 
for such acts as publicly beating his son 
in the camp of the Saxon King, cudgeling the in- 
habitants of his Capitol and flinging the judges 
down stairs. To his coarse, brutish nature every- 
thing French was repulsive and everything British 
equally abhorrent; he grossly insulted the British 
Ambassador and forced his Queen, Sophia Doro- 
thea, daughter of George I of England and 
Hanover-Brunswick, to drink to the downfall of 
the English. Reddaway, the biographer of Fred- 
erick the Great, speaks of Frederick William I as 
a boor "whose ideal of life was to sleep on straw 
in a barn, wash at daybreak in a tub, don a plain 
uniform, inspect farms, account books and soldiers, 
gorge himself with rude German dishes in the 
middle of the day, snore under a tree in the after- 
noon, and devote the evening to tobacco, buffoonery 
and strong drink. . . . His mixture of fervent 
piety and immorality suggests that he was hardly 
sane. . . . What he was to his children may be 
inferred from the fact that his daughter became his 
bitter satirist, and his son his bitter foe. . . . He 
drank himself to death before he was fiftv-two." 
The most fiendish aspect of this brute-king of 
Prussia was his hateful conduct toward the Crown 
Prince whom he pursued with public insults, 
humihations and violent outbursts of rage, until it 
was generally suspected that he begrudged his son 


his very existence. That the Prince suffered from 
this cruel treatment is evidenced by his unsuccessful 
attempt to flee (August, 1730) with his best friend, 
Lieut. Katte. The objective of this flight was 
probably the British Court and his mother's people, 
but the boyish plot was nipped in the bud, and 
the irate king imprisoned both his son and his 

The young Lieutenant was sentenced by Court 
JMartial to two years' imprisonment for aiding 
Frederick in his contemplated flight, but the King 
ignored the verdict and demanded that the young 
man be put to death. In the early morning of 
November 6th, Katte, after being barbarously ill- 
treated by the Prussian King, was executed in the 
sight of Prince Frederick at the fortress of Ciistrin, 
where the Crown Prince was incarcerated. It has 
been said that Frederick's life would also have 
been sacrificed by his irate, inhuman father but for 
the intercessions of the Kings of Sweden and 
Poland, and Frederick William's fear of the Em- 
peror. At one time Frederick was offered his free- 
dom and told by the King that he would be at 
liberty to go where he pleased, and do what he 
liked, if he would "renounce the succession in favor 
of his younger brother, Augustus William." 
Frederick replied, "My life is not over-dear to 
me. ... I will accept the proposal if my father 
will publicly declare that I am not really his son." 

Frederick was kept in solitary confinement at 
Ciistrin. No one was permitted to speak to him, 
and mute attendants passed food to him three times 
each day. Fiendish psj^chological torture was 
practiced on him, such as telling him one day that 


his mother and sister refused to hear his name 
mentioned, and that among the people "no one 
thinks of him any more." Gradually the imprison- 
ment was made less severe, and a town substituted 
for a fortress, but his father declared, "If he kicks 
or rears again he shall forfeit the succession to the 
Crown, and even, according to circumstances, life 

Frederick's education, outlined by his father, 
made of him a rebel and a hypocrite. He was for- 
bidden all books other than the Bible, a hymnbook 
and Arndt's True Christianity. Even geometry 
was classed by his father as an "amusement," and 
was banned, as was also singing — ^other than hymns 
— music, dancing and even the wearing of summer 
clothes and eating meals outdoors in hot weather. 
The nobles were forbidden to converse with Prince 
Frederick on any topic except "the Bible, the Con- 
stitution of the land, manufactures, police, agri- 
culture, accounts, leases and lawsuits." On one 
occasion when Prince Frederick was ill, a report 
was sent to the King telling of his son's physical 
condition, but, instead of showing concern, the 
father brutally scribbled on the margin of the 
report, "If there were Sixry good in him he would 
die, but I am certain he will not die, for weeds 
never disappear." 

After seeing his best friend killed, his sister, who 
was loj^al and devoted to him, banished, his mother 
contemptibly treated and placed under a cloud, and 
finally having a wife forced on him whom he 
despised, it is hardly surprising that Frederick's 
heart, never conspicuous for tenderness, grew 
harder and harder as the years went by. 


For reasons of state, Frederick William decided 
that his son should marry EHzabeth Christini of 
Brunswick-Bevern, a niece of the Austro-German 
Empress, which was as great a match with the 
House of Hapsburg as Prussia could hope to make. 
At the last moment Austria struggled to repudiate 
the betrothal, and from the first Prince Frederick 
had looked far higher. Indeed at one time he was 
determined to marry none other than Amelia, the 
daughter of George II of Britain, and his lister 
Wilhelmina was to wed the Prince of Wales, but 
later he aspired to the hand of Anne of Russia, and 
even later to the hand of the Archduchess Maria 
Theresa of Austro- Germany. At that period of 
Prussian history when the Prussian Kings were 
vassals of the Austro-German Emperor, Frederick 
would gladly have renounced his succession in the 
little kingdom of Prussia to become the husband 
of the woman destined to be the Empress of 

Although the peace of Westphaha, at the end of 
the Thirty-year War, gave independence to Brand- 
enburg and other German states, the Great Elector 
in outward show still remained a vassal of the 
Austro-German Emperor. He continued to be 
one of the Seven Electors who chose the head of 
the Holy Roman Empire and honored him with 
lowly homage. In virtue of his hereditary office 
as Grand Chamberlain, it was the duty of the 
Elector of Brandenburg, prescribed by the Golden 
Bull of 1356, to appear at Solemn Courts "on 
horseback, having in his hand a silver basin with 
water, and a beautiful towel and, descending from 
his horse, to present the water to the Emperor or 


King of the Romans, to wash his hands." More- 
over, as a German Prince, the Elector of Branden- 
burg was required, notwithstanding his "independ- 
ence," to look to the Austro- German Emperor for 
investiture, leadership and advice. 

Frederick William I, whose father, Frederick I, 
had been made King of Prussia by the generosity 
of the Hapsburgs and who had received the Crown 
as a gift, not from God, but from the Austro- 
German Emperor, once declared, "The Emperor 
( Charles VI ) will have to spurn me from him with 
his feet: I am his unto death, faithful to the last 
drop of my blood." 

Frederick's high aspirations in looking for a 
wife caused his father and Grumbkow, the King's 
Minister and most trusted Counsellor, great con- 
cern, for Austria must not be offended by the pre- 
simiptuousness of a Prussian Prince — a vassal 
should not aspire to the hand of his master's daugh- 
ter; but it was highly desirable for Prussia that 
the Crown Prince be bound to the ruling House of 
Austria, hence the marriage contracted with the 
Brunswick-Beverns. Frederick William broke the 
news to his son by letter, and of the unfortunate 
Ehzabeth he said, "She is a creature who fears 
God, and that is everything." Frederick was abso- 
lutely dominated and bullied by his father and 
would comply with anything rather than run the 
risk of another imprisonment and kingly displeas- 
ure; he made no objection whatever to his father 
concerning the match, but to Grumbkow he wrote 
that he hated severe virtue, and rather than marry 
a religious fanatic, always grimacing and looking 
shocked, he would prefer to wed the most immoral 


woman in Berlin. "When all is said and done, 
there will be one more unhappy princess in the 
world. ... I shall put her away as soon as I am 
master. ... I will keep my word, I will marr3% 
but that is enough." He kept his word and 
throughout his life ignored his wife; indeed his 
Queen never even saw his favorite home, Sans 
Souci, which he built in the park at Potsdam in 


Between the time of Frederick's betrothal, in 
March, 1732, and his marriage in June, 1733, the 
Crown Prince obtained military training at Fehr- 
bellin. "It was drudgery," he said, "but thank God 
it is not Ciistrin," and again, "I have drilled, I drill, 
I shall drill. That is all the news." 

Frederick the Great ascended the throne of 
Prussia in 1740 and promptly forgot his friends 
and benefactors — a typical Hohenzollern charac- 
teristic. The aged Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, who 
had created the Prussian army, and the aged Gen- 
eral von Schulenburg, who had risked all rather 
than condemn to death Frederick's greatest friend, 
were humiliated by royal reprimands, and when he 
heard of the death of Grumbkow, with whom he 
had corresponded with the greatest intimacy and 
confidence for nearly a decade, he brutally wrote 
his sister that the old Minister's death is "for me 
the greatest conceivable gain." This reminds one 
of Wilhelm II in regard to Bismarck, Prusso-Ger- 
many's greatest Minister, and of the Great Elector 
who deposed Schwarzenburg, the jNIinister and 
Counsellor of his father. 

Frederick, upon his ascension to the throne, still 
further drew himself from his relatives, friends, and 


from the people. Reddaway, referring to the mon- 
ument of Frederick the Great in Berlin, says, "At 
the base of his lofty pedestal are stationed generals 
and civilians of renown nimierous enough to con- 
fute the Cassius who should infer of Frederick's 
Prussia that there was in it but only one man. 
The statue none the less suggests the truth. Be- 
tween monarch and people there was ever a great 
gulf fixed. Through all his life — in his counsels, in 
his despair, in his triumph, and in his death — 
Frederick, almost beyond parallel in the record of 
human history, was alone." 

When Frederick's sister, Wilhelmina, visited 
Berlin, her royal brother received her with brutal 
coldness, notwithstanding that she had suffered 
parental disfavor and virtual banishment on his ac- 
count; indeed her whole life had been spoiled be- 
cause of her love and loyalty to him. Wilhelmina 
soon found abundant proofs that her royal brother 
had become inscrutable, heartless and unapproach- 
able. She describes in her Memoirs how the Queen 
Mother (Sophia Dorothea of Hanover) had shut 
herself up, astounded, mortified and humiliated at 
her son's indifference to her and her absolute ex- 
clusion from all afPairs of state. "Some complained 
of the little care he had to reward those who had 
been attached to him as Crown Prince; others, of 
his avarice, which they said surpassed that of his 
father; others, of his passions; others again of his 
suspicions, of his mistrust, of his pride and of his 

His sister writes of Frederick's treatment of her 
husband at her home in Baireuth, "He scanned him 
(her husband, the Margrave of Baireuth) for some 


time, from head to foot, and after addressing to 
him a few words of cold pohteness, he withdrew. 
I could not recognize that dear brother who had 
cost me so many tears and for whom I had sacri- 
ficed myself." Later, Wilhelmina and her husband 
were at Rheinsburg with Frederick, and in her 
Diary she wrote: "I saw the King but seldom. I 
had no ground for being satisfied with our inter- 
views. The greater part of them was spent either 
in embarrassed words of politeness or in outrageous 
witticisms on the bad state of my husband's 
finances; indeed he often ridiculed him and the 
princes of the empire, which I felt very much." 
The husband of Frederick's sister, whom he ap- 
parently despised, was a HohenzoUern cousin, and 
Wilhelmina had been forced by her father to marry 
this man during a period of Frederick's disgrace 
in order that the brother and sister, apparently so 
fond of each other, should be separated, and the 
Crown Prince punished thereby. When Frederick 
snubbed his sister's husband, he snubbed a Hohen- 
zoUern — one of his own flesh and blood. 

Frederick had the strong ideas of the later 
HohenzoUerns in regard to caste. He maintained 
when Crown Prince that a noble and Prussian 
Junker should never be required to make out a 
report on governmental or other matters to an 
official, if that official was a man of the middle or 
lower classes. And he had the effrontery to say 
of the daughter of Grumbkow, the Prussian Min- 
ister, that she was ''without charms and without 

The chief legacy of the Great Elector of Brand- 
enburg (died 1688) had been a well organized army 


of twenty-seven thousand men, which was a tre- 
mendous force in those days, especially for an 
obscure Prince, for only France possessed a large 
standing army. Frederick I, the First King of 
Prussia, was a vain ignoramus who ruled from 
1688 to 1713; he bequeathed an army of forty-eight 
thousand men to his son, and Frederick Wilham I, 
who occupied the Prussian throne from 1713 to 
1740, increased the army until it numbered eighty- 
three thousand men. This was the army which 
Frederick the Great inherited and immediately 
commenced to use to enforce his will and make of 
it a menace to the peace of Europe. 

In the days of Frederick I and Frederick Wil- 
liam, Europe had known that the Prussian army 
would fight for the highest bidder. Prussia in those 
days took no chances, and this commercial use of 
the army led to the saying that "the Prussians shoot 
only for foreign pay." Frederick II accused his 
grandfather and father of lacking courage and 
nerve in foreign affairs, and promptly proceeded 
to show Prussia's teeth to Europe. 

He threatened the Archbishop of Mainz, a great 
Romanist prince, who was supported by the Em- 
peror in a quarrel with the Protestant Landgrave 
of Hesse-Cassel ; he gave a two days' ultimatum to 
the Bishop of Liege, accusing him of fostering dis- 
content among the populace "over my free barony 
of Herstal," which being ignored, Frederick des- 
patched Prussian troops, seized his territory and 
collected an indemnity of two hundred thousand 
thaler s. This indemnity was the "just and reason- 
able arrangement" referred to in a communication 
of Frederick's forwarded to the European Powers 


in explanation of his forceful conduct: "His 
majesty will never put from him a just and reason- 
able arrangement with the said Prince, as the sole 
end which his justice and moderation have in view 
in this affair, these two invariable principles being 
the polestar of all his actions." This entire episode 
is typically Prussian in its self-righteousness, its 
"two days' " ultimatum, and its utilization of armed 
forces to strike quickly. There is a similarity be- 
tween the Prussian-inspired ultimatum to Serbia 
and Frederick's initial demonstration of Hohen- 
zollern power and methods. 


FREDERICK II became King of Prussia in 
May, 1740, and in October of the same year, 
Charles VI, the Emperor of the Holy 
Roman Empire and of Austro- Germany, died. 
Frederick, who had planned, upon the death of the 
Emperor, to forcibly annex part or all of the Haps- 
burg province of Silesia, hailed his exit with ill- 
concealed satisfaction, and brutally remarked that 
"A trifle like the Emperor's death does not demand 
great commotions. It was foreseen and my plans 
have been well thought out in advance. It is now 
only a question of carrying out designs which I have 
long had in my mind," and to Voltaire, he wrote, ''I 
believe that in June it will be powder, soldiers and 
trenches rather than actresses, ballets and theatres. 
. . . This is the moment of the entire transforma- 
tion of the old system of politics ; the stone is loosed 
which Nebuchadnezzar beheld when it rolled upon 
the image of four metals and destroyed it." 

Frederick's greed for Silesia constituted his only 
right to it; because he believed this province neces- 
sary for Prussia's greatness, he proceeded to grab 
it from Austria on the usual Prussian policy that 
"Necessity knows no law," and by this outrageous 
theft he was transformed from Frederick the Sec- 
ond of Prussia into Frederick the Great. Redda- 
way, his biogi^apher, has said, " 'Was it right for 
Prussia to attempt to acquire Silesia for her o^vn 
profit ?' may seem to have little claim for discussion 
. . . because consideration of right and wrong 


counted but little with Frederick himself. . . . 
What it seemed to him profitable to do, that he did ; 
what it seemed to him profitable to sav, that he 

Charles YI of Austria, in anticipation of his 
death without a male heir, had settled the law of 
succession for the dominions of the House of Haps- 
burg by ''Pragmatic Sanction," first published on 
April 19th, 1713. After the birth of Maria Theresa, 
Charles was very anxious that she should ascend 
the throne of Austria and enjoy in her exalted 
position a life of peace; for many j^ears, therefore, 
prior to his death in 1740, he worked unceasingly 
to smooth out every possible source of discord with 
the other European powers, and he entered into trea- 
ties with England, France, Russia, Prussia, Spain, 
Poland, Sweden and Denmark by which they all 
solemnly bound themselves to respect and maintain 
the Pragmatic Sanction. "That instrument," said 
Macaulay, "was placed under the protection of the 
pubHc faith of the whole civilized world." 

When Maria Theresa (1717-1780) ascended the 
throne of Austria, the European powers reafiirmed 
the solemn guaranty given to her father, and from 
no country and court did she receive any stronger 
assurance of support and good-will than from 
Prussia and its newly crowned King, Frederick II, 
and this notwithstanding the fact tliat at that very 
moment he was deeply engaged in the planning of 
an unscrupulous enterprise which had for its object 
the robbing of the young Queen of a substantial 
portion of her inherited kingdom. Frederick later 
insisted that the "Pragmatic Sanction," solemnly 
recognized by his father Frederick Wilham I, and 


reaffirmed by himself, which pledged Prussia %o 
see that the hereditary dominions of the Emperor 
Charles VI descended to his daughter, Maria 
Theresa, could only be held to apply to territory 
which rightfully belonged to the Hapsburgs. Fred- 
erick learned that there were ancient Brandenburg 
claims to the three Silesian Duchies, long since bar- 
gained away or else overruled, denied and ridiculed 
by other interested parties, but these absurd 
"ancient claims" satisfied the "Hohenzollern con- 
science" and gave the Prussian King sufiicient 
excuse for violating the sanctity of an international 

The death of Emperor Charles and the extinction 
of the male line of the Hapsburgs seemed to Fred- 
erick a heaven-sent and most unique opportunity to 
reahze his ambitions. He despised dynastic power, 
as expressed by ruhng queens ; he expected a weak- 
ening of Austria under a woman's rule ; he felt that 
Maria Theresa would be easily intimidated and 
would concede much in order to win support to her 
plan of gaining the Imperial crown for her consort 
husband, but in his heart he did not feel that he had 
any real right or any respectable claim to Silesia. 
In his Memoirs, Frederick makes no pretentions 
to lofty motives, but candidly confesses that his 
determination to grab Silesia was a means of ac- 
quiring reputation and of increasing the power of 
the state. "Ambition, interest, the desire of mak- 
ing people talk about me, carried the day and I 
decided for war." These infamous words of Fred- 
erick could with perfect fitness have been used by 
his criminal successor of our time, who has so often 
referred in the past to Frederick II as his exemplar. 


Frederick's code of ethics, notwithstanding all 
his anti-Machiavellian protestations, was in full 
harmony with the unscrupulous principles formu- 
lated and advocated by the Florentine in The 
Prince. Two years before he ascended the throne, 
while yet Crown Prince Frederick of the House of 
Hohenzollerns, and heir apparent to the throne of 
Prussia, he wrote his Anti-Macchiavel, in the rural 
tranquillity of Rheinsberg. In it he defined mon- 
archy in a way that delighted the hearts of all 
Em'opean democrats and pacifists, — "Here lies the 
error of most princes. They believe that God has 
created this multitude of men, whose welfare is 
committed to their charge, expressly and out of 
special consideration for their greatness, their hap- 
piness and their pride, and that their subjects are 
only destined to be the tools and servants of their 
lower passions. Since the principle from which one 
starts is itself false, all the consequences from it 
must also be unsound; for instance, the craving for 
false glory, the burning desire to conquer every- 
thing, the burdening of the people with crushing 
taxation, the sloth of the princes, their pride, their 
injustice, their inhumanity, their tyranny and all 
those other vices which degrade human nature. If 
princes would only be persuaded to emancipate 
themselves from such erroneous views and to recog- 
nize once again the purpose for which they were in- 
stituted, they would perceive that this office of 
which they are so proud, and their elevation to it, 
have been purely the work of the peoples; that these 
thousands of human beings committed to their 
charge by no means made themselves the slaves of 
a single man in order to make him more terrible 


and more powerful still, that they by no means 
subjected themselves to a fellow citizen in order to 
be the victims of his caprices and the playthings of 
his fantasy; but that they chose from their midst 
him, whom they considered the most upright, to 
rule over them for their good, and to care for them 
like a father; him whom they deemed the most 
humane, that he should sympathize with and aid 
them in their afflictions ; him whom thev deemed the 
strongest, that he should protect them against their 
foes; him whom they deemed the shrewdest, that 
he might not involve them at a wrong time in de- 
structive and ruinous wars; in short, the man whom 
they deemed fittest to represent the whole body 
politic, whose sovereign power should be a pillar of 
law and justice and not a means of committing 
crimes and practising tyranny with impunity." 

This is the antithesis of Prussianism and yet it is 
typical Hohenzollern cant. Compare the idealistic 
writings of Frederick, the Crown Prince, with the 
words of Frederick, the unscrupulous, ambitious 
and militaristic King, who defended or sought to 
explain his ruthless and Machiavellian acts. "If 
there is anything to be gained by being honest, let 
us be honest; if it is necessary for us to deceive, 
let us deceive." "I understand by the word 
'policy' that one must make it his study to de- 
ceive others; that is the way to get the better 
of them." "The promise given was a necessity 
of the past; the broken word is a necessity of the 
present." "The jurisprudence of sovereigns is 
commonly the right of the stronger." "Take what 
you can ; you are never wrong unless you are obliged 
to give back." "Negotiations without arms are 


music without instruments." "Force is the only 
argument that one can use with these dogs of Kings 
and Emperors." But of all the ruling despots, he 
himself stood forth conspicuously as the most lust- 
ful and unprincipled aggressive brute in interna- 
tional affairs. When Podewils, the Prussian Min- 
ister, urged that his King set up some semblance 
of a legal claim, or attempt to prove some moral 
right to Silesia before he invaded the land, Fred- 
erick impatiently wrote, "The question of right is 
the affair of the Ministers; it is your affair; it is 
time for you now to work diligently at it in secret, 
for the orders to the troops are given': and again he 
said — and he ever took pleasure in reiterating this 
thought — "When kings desire war they begin it, 
and leave learned professors and industrious law- 
yers to prove that they were right." Upon the 
margins of a copy of Tacitus, Frederick wrote: 
"No Ministers at home, but clerks. No Ministers 
abroad, but spies. Form alliances only to sow 
animosities. Kindle and prolong war between my 
neighbors. Always promise help and never send it." 
It is no wonder that Frederick of Prussia became 
a menace to the peace and security of all the Con- 
tinental Powers. His enemies feared him, and his 
"friends" knew full well that any favor they en- 
joyed was for its possible advantage to Prussia. 
No ally of Frederick ever trusted him unless it was 
Britain — who, at times, under her Hanover- 
Brunswick (German) kings, was favorable to him 
although he frequently violated conventions and 
plotted against her. Prussia has never honored any 
treaty that it seemed to her interest to break, and 
the HohenzoUerns have always believed that Prus- 


sian security and power as a European nation were 
materially increased by sowing seeds of discord and 
suspicion in regard to each other in the minds of 
the Kings and Ministers of other nations. 

From the earliest days of Prussian history, when 
Frederick Hohenzollern of Nuremburg obtained 
domination over the Mark of Brandenburg in re- 
turn for a payment of 400,000 golden gulden to the 
Emperor Sigismund, her rulers have maintained a 
consistent reputation among her neighbor-nations. 

"Prussia lies, Prussia cheats, Prussia steals. 
And Prussia is not ashamed of herself." 

Frederick II was the personification of Machia- 
vellian guile and imscrupulousness, and the great 
champion of brute force and military power. Maria 
Theresa, the young Austrian Empress, well ex- 
pressed the prevalent opinion of her day when she 
said, "All the world knows what value to attach to 
the King of Prussia and his word. There is no 
sovereign in Europe who has not suffered from his 
perfidy. Under a despotism which repudiates every 
principle, the Prussian monarchy will one day he 
the source of infinite calamity, not only to Germany, 
but to the whole of Europe/'' Was ever a prophecy 
more literally fulfilled? But to-day it is not only 
Europe but the whole world that is affected by the 
Hohenzollern curse. 

Bernhardi in Germany and the Neoct War 
(1912), referring to the activities of Frederick the 
Great, says, "None of the wars which he fought had 
been forced upon him; none of them did he post- 
pone as long as possible. He was always deter- 
mined to be the aggressor, to anticipate his oppo- 


nents and to secure for himself favorable prospects 
of success. We all know what he achieved. The 
whole history of the growth of the European 
nations . . . would have been changed had the 
King lacked that heroic power of decision which 
he showed," and "Frederick the Great followed in 
the steps of his glorious ancestor . . . the Great 
Elector — ^Frederick William of Brandenburg 
(1640-1688) — who laid the foundations of Prus- 
sia's power by successful and deliberately-incurred 

It is true that the whole history of Europe would 
have been changed if Frederick II had been worthy 
of the title of "The Philosopher King," and applied 
as ruler of a people the democratic and just prin- 
ciples which he advanced as Crown Prince. Td^ 
satisfy his lawless ambition, Frederick plunged 
Europe into war and threw the great nations into 
a state of distrust and fear which led to cruel and 
unnecessary wars, staged not only on the Continent 
of Europe but throughout the world. The "Silesian 
adventure" of Frederick, commenced in 1740, re- 
sulted in three Silesian wars, the last of which. The 
Seven- Year War, was not concluded until 1763, 
and the unjust peace forced upon the European 
powers by the unscrupulous Hohenzollern upstart, 
contained in abundance those essentiallv dvnastic 
germs of future wars from which the civilized world 
has suffered and is now suffering. ^^^^ 

Macaulay says: "On the head of Frederick is 
all the blood which was shed in a war which raged 
during many years and in every quarter of the 
globe, the blood of the column of Fontenoy, the 
blood of the brave mountaineers who were slaugh- 


tered at Culloden. The evils produced by this 
wickedness were felt in lands where the name of 
Prussia was unknown, and in order that he might 
rob a neighbor whom he had promised to defend, 
black men fought on the coast of Coromandel and 
red men scalped each other by the Great Lakes of 
North America." We might also say that on the 
head of Frederick II of Prussia is the blood that 
has been shed in all the Hohenzollern and Napo- 
leonic wars from the days of the "Silesian adven- 
ture" to this day, when the whole world is suffering 
in bitter anguish from the horror into which it has 
been plunged by an unprincipled, ambitious Ho- 
henzollern — Wilhelm II, the despotic Emperor of 
the Germans. 

Frederick was the third Hohenzollern who had 
worn the crown, which had been granted as a gra- 
cious favor to his grandfather by the Emperor of 
the Austro-Germans. His father and grandfather 
had both proclaimed that they were regal but faith- 
ful vassals of the Great Emperor, the Temporal 
Ruler of the Christian World, of the Holy Roman 
Empire, and the self-styled. Lord of the World. 
When Emperor Charles VI died, however, without 
male offspring, Frederick II felt that the time was 
ripe to throw off any allegiance or obligation to the 
House of Hapsburg. Austria, with a woman, 
JMaria Theresa, on the throne, seemed relatively 
weak, so he unhesitatingly made war with intent to 
humiliate Austria and wrest from her the territory 
that Prussia craved. 

When Vienna heard rumors of Frederick's am- 
bitions in regard to Silesia, the Marquis di Botta 
was sent on a special mission to the Prussian Court. 


He saw the heavy movement of troops and suc- 
ceeded in getting Frederick to drop an assmned 
mask of friendship and speak frankly of his plans 
and aspirations. "I am resolved," said the Prus- 
sian King, "to safeguard my rights over parts of 
Silesia by occupying it. Yield it to me and I will 
support the throne of Maria Theresa and procure 
the Imperial Crown for her husband." "Impos- 
sible," replied the outraged Austrian statesman, 
"and such a course for you will make you a crim- 
inal in the eyes of all Europe." The interview 
terminated, Frederick promptly set off for Silesia 
and soon wrote to Podewils from Silesian soil, "I 
have crossed the Rubicon with waving banner and 
resounding music ; my troops are happy, my officers 
ambitious, and my Generals consumed with greed 
for fame." Frederick then issued and circulated 
a "reassuring" document throughout Silesia, which 
had been prepared by him in Berlin many weeks 
before, and which stated in substance that a war 
was threatening in which Silesia, "our safeguard 
and bulwark," will be involved and the security of 
Prussia threatened. To avert this peril, Frederick 
felt himself compelled to despatch troops to 
Silesia. "This action is by no means intended to 
detrimentally affect Her Majesty . . . with whom 
... we strongly desire to maintain the strictest 
friendship and to promote Austria's true interest 
and maintenance according to the example of our 
glorious forefathers in our realm. That such is 
our sole intention in this affair, time will show 
clearly enough, for we are actually in course of 
explanation and agreement with Her Majesty." 
While Frederick was endeavoring to deceive the 


Silesians with statements void of truth and honor, 
his representatives, Borcke and Gotter, were mak- 
ing the Prussian demands at Vienna. "I bear," 
said the plenipotentiary Gotter, "in one hand, 
safety for the Austrian dynasty, and in the other, 
for your highness" (the Archduke Francis, husband 
of Maria Theresa), "the Imperial Crown. The 
treasures of the King of Prussia, my master, are 
at the service of the Queen, and he brings her the 
succor of his allies" (who knew nothing of his high- 
handed demands, and later refused to support 
him). "As a return for these offers, and as com- 
pensation for the peril which he incurs by them, 
he asks for all Silesia and will take no less. The 
King's resolve is immovable. He has the tvill and 
the power to possess himself of Silesia, and if it be 
not offered to him with a good grace, these same 
troops and treasures will be given to Saxony and 
Bavaria, who are asking for them." 

Austria dechned Frederick's proposals with 
scorn, and refused to negotiate with such an un- 
scrupulous brigand. The English Minister at 
Vienna declared that unless Frederick withdrew 
his forces from Silesia "he would be excommuni- 
cated from the society of Governments." All of 
Europe, and even his own Ministers, joined in the 
chorus of remonstrance, but Frederick was im- 
movable ; he wanted Silesia and he was determined 
to take it whether the means employed were fair 
or foul. 

Frederick grabbed half of Silesia from an un- 
prepared neighbor-nation, and secured the needed 
bases for the conquest of the other half. He was 
somewhat fearful of what France and England 


might do, so in January, 1741, he simultaneously 
courted the two great Powers. Carlyle says that 
Frederick was "a veracious man ... at all points." 
Reddaway, another biographer, is not a hero wor- 
shipper in the Germanized Carlyle sense ; he records 
facts which clearly prove that Frederick was an 
astute man, careless alike of truth and right. 
Frederick's letters to Cardinal Fleury, Minister of 
France, and to his uncle, King George II of 
Britain, written at the same time, throw valuable 
light on his diplomatic methods and his "honor" 
and regard for truth. From his letter to Fleury, 
written at Breslau, we read, "It depends only upon 
you, by favoring the justice of my title to Silesia, 
to make eternal the bonds which will unite us. If 
I did not make you a sharer in my plans at first it 
was through f orgetfulness rather than for any other 
reason. It is not every one who is as unfettered 
amid his work as yourself, and to Cardinal Fleury 
alone it is granted to think of and to provide for 
everything" and he added, "I ask nothing better 
than a close union with His Most Christian Majesty 
(Louis XV) whose interests will always be dear 
to me, and I flatter myself that he will have no 
less regard for mine." Frederick's letter to King 
George II of Great Britain, the enemy of France, 
reads: "As I have had no alliance with any one, I 
have not been able to open my mind to any one; 
but as I see your Majesty's good intentions I re- 
gard you as already my ally, from whom I ought in 
future to have nothing secret or concealed. . . . 
I have unbounded confidence in your Majesty's 
friendship and in the common interests of Protest- 
ant princes. ... If your Majesty desires to attach 


to yourself a faithful ally of inviolable constancy, 
this is the time; our interests, our religion, our 
blood is the same, and it would be sad to see our- 
selves acting against each other; it would be still 
more grievous to oblige me to concur in the great 
plan of France, which I intend to do only if I am 


THE unscrupulousness of Frederick in his 
undertaking and prosecution of the first 
Silesian War was characteristic of his 
whole career. In this war against Austria, Prussia 
made a secret aUiance with France, and at the Con- 
vention of Klein Schnellendorf, in October, 1741, 
sold her alhes for her own profit, and while the 
Austrians battled with the French, Frederick 
strengthened his own army and carried off the 
spoils. At Klein Schnellendorf, the Prussian King 
agreed with the Austrian General Neipperg that 
after a sham siege of Niesse, the Austrians should 
evacuate Silesia, and Prussia should become neu- 
tral in fact, although she would pretend to still be 
a combatant, in order to hoodwink the French. 

Frederick "bombarded" Niesse and, at an agreed 
time, Neipperg's army retired "pursued" by the 
Prussians, and the strong fortress fell into Fred- 
erick's hands. Frederick had agreed with Austria 
to the division of Silesia, to the Prussian retention 
of Lower Silesia and to the neutrality of Prussia 
in the coming war between Austria and France 
who, with Saxony, was supporting Charles Albert 
of Bavaria for the Imperial Crown; but Fred- 
erick's treaty with France required Prussia's sup- 
port of the claims of Charles Albert, while France 
agreed to guarantee Frederick the possession of 
Lower Silesia and send an army against Austria. 
Frederick, therefore, had succeeded in getting the 
two Continental Powers, which he feared, at war 


with each other, and he was pledged to actively 
cooperate with one, and either support the other or 
at least keep neutral. 

Frederick's secret agreement with his acknowl- 
edged enemy permitted Neipperg to send his 
Austrian army against the French, the friend and 
ally of Prussia, and Frederick gave Neipperg the 
Hohenzollern formula for military action, "Unite 
all your troops, then strike hard at your enemy 
before they are ready to strike you," and, in regard 
to his own future actions, said, "If you succeed, 
Prussia may join you; if you fail, Prussia will have 
to take care of herself, but will remain neutral in 
the fight between Austria and the supporters of 
Charles Albert." 

Frederick expected the Austrians to defeat his 
acknowledged allies, but Prague was stormed by 
the French, Bavarians and Saxons, and Frederick, 
the unscrupulous Prussian opportunist, repudi- 
ated his Klein Schnellendorf understanding with 
Austria, and threw in his lot with Austria's enemies, 
who were succeeding where he had expected them 
to fail. Cardinal Fleury once said, "The King of 
Prussia is false in everything, even in his caresses," 
and apparently he suspected, after the Austrian 
evacuation of Neisse, that Frederick was not play- 
ing clean, but the Prussian Kaiser ridiculed such 
an insinuation. "Should I be so foolish as to patch 
up a peace with enemies who hate me in their 
hearts and in whose neighborhood I could enjoy 
no safety? The true principles of the policy of 
the Hohenzollerns demand a close alliance with 
France." Lord Hyndford, the British Ambas- 
sador, knew all that had transpired at Klein 


Schnellendorf and had been present at Frederick's 
interview with Neipperg. He refused to permit 
Britain to be duped by Prussian hes, so Frederick 
told him frankly that it was his "firm intention to 
set the convention at naught, for it was no longer 
to his interest to abide by it/' 

Frederick reasoned that his acknowledged allies 
had two soldiers for each one that Austria had in 
the field, and that Austria dare not make public 
her secret agreement with him; if she did, she 
would be laughed to scorn or not believed. Fred- 
erick, therefore, not content with Lower Silesia, 
laid his hands on Upper Silesia and parts of the 
adjoining country, and arranged for the conquest 
of Moravia. This is the Frederick, treacherous 
and disloyal to friend and foe alike, whose word 
was valueless and who had the effrontery to write 
to Voltaire: "Alas! trickery, bad faith and double- 
dealing are the leading characteristics of most men 
who are at the head of nations, and these men ought 
to set an example to others." 

Throughout the period of the Silesian adventure, 
and the conflict between Bavaria and Austria for 
the Imperial Crown, Frederick's attitude in regard 
to his allies was contemptible. He never acted for 
the common good of the nations at war with 
Austria, but always for Prussia and Prussia alone; 
he never moved his armies unless he saw that some 
decided benefit would result therefrom, not for the 
allies, but for Prussia. In the second Silesian 
campaign the boot was on the other leg, and Fred- 
erick howled most energetically. When sorely 
pressed by Austrian troops he acknowledged the 
news of the French victory at Fontenoy (May, 


1745) by writing, "We beg the King of France 
not to imagine that any effort of his in Flanders 
can procure the least relief for the King of Prus- 
sia. If the Spaniards land in the Canary Islands, 
if the King of France takes Tournay, or if Thamas 
Kuli-Chan besieges Babylon, it is all one to me.*' 

In his campaign in Moravia Frederick showed 
what the world now recognizes as HohenzoUern 
ruthlessness and brutality. Because the people 
resisted his progress and did not hail with joy the 
prospect of being enslaved by the Prussians, the 
path of his troops was made an avenue of utter 
desolation. The Saxons, whom he had forced to 
march into Moravia with him, were rebellious and 
were soon sent to join the French in Bohemia. 

An episode in the Battle of Molhwitz (April 
10th, 1741) shows an amusing and typical Hohen- 
zoUern alacrity in running away from danger. 
The cavalry had been badly cut up by the Aus- 
trians and the battle seemed irretrievably lost, so 
Frederick fled to safety without seeing his infantry 
under Schwerin save the day and win the first 
Prussian victory. Frederick never alluded to this 
hasty departure from the field, but always cele- 
brated April 10th as the anniversary of his first 
great military triumph — which he had not even 

Frederick repeatedly endeavored to sacrifice his 
alhes to his own profit and make a separate peace, 
and after the battle of Chotusitz — Frederick's first 
real personal military victory — the Peace of Bres- 
lau (June 11th, 1742) was concluded and the 
Treaty of Berlin (July, 1742) negotiated between 
Austria and Prussia. 


By the Treaty of Berlin, at the conclusion of 
the First Silesian War, Frederick obtained sub- 
stantially all of Silesia and the county of Glatz. 
In twenty months, and after his troops had fought 
only two pitched battles, he had added to Prussia 
a greater prize in territory and population than 
any of his ancestors. Thus, in his thirty-first 
year, Frederick had become greater than any pre- 
vious member of the HohenzoUern family, for the 
test of HohenzoUern greatness is how much the 
ruler can add to the family ''possessions" in land 
and subjects. 

Frederick was his own Commander-in-Chief and 
his own Prime Minister. He insisted on handhng 
or supervising everything of importance in Prus- 
sia, and much that was not of importance. He has 
been termed "the judge, general and stage man- 
ager" of Prussia, and he made time to rehearse 
actors at the theatre as well as inspect troops and 
fortresses, and draft despatches. The Minister of 
France said of Frederick, "Fully convinced of his 
superiority in every department, he already thinks 
himself a clever statesman and a great general. 
Alert and masterful, he always decides upon the 
spot and according to his own fancy. His generals 
will never be anything but adjutants, his counsel- 
lors anything but clerks, his finance-ministers any- 
thing but tax-gatherers, his allies among German 
princes anything but his slaves." 

AVhen Podewils, the faithful Minister, suggested 
to Frederick that he remain in Silesia for a while, 
the King angrily retorted, "Attend to your own 
affairs and do not presume to say whether I ought 
or ought not to go. Negotiate as I command vou, 


and do not be the weak tool of English and Aus- 
trian impudence," and to his Ambassador in 
Vienna he wrote, "Do not forget with what master 
you have to deal, and if you take heed of nothing 
else, take heed of your head." 

Two incidents which occurred between the first 
and second struggle for Silesia throw illuminating 
light upon the character of Frederick. Voltaire 
sent in confidence to his friend and "affectionate" 
admirer, "the philosopher-King of Prussia," some 
epigrams bearing upon the French Court, and 
when Voltaire left France later to visit Frederick, 
the Prussian Kaiser caused these writings to be 
published in Paris in order to humiliate Louis XV 
and make it impossible for Voltaire to return there. 
Frederick engaged a famous dancer, Barberina, 
then at Venice, for a new opera to be given in Ber- 
lin. For personal reasons Barberina broke her 
contract and the Doge and Senate maintained that 
they could not compel the woman against her 
wishes to leave for Prussia. Frederick therefore 
seized the Venetian Ambassador in Berlin and held 
him as a hostage until Venice delivered Barberina 
as a prisoner to him in Berlin. 
'^In 1744, when the Prince of East Frisia 
(Friesland) died without lineal heirs, Frederick 
promptly seized the territory and declared that he 
would hold it bv force of arms. Hanover had 
claims to the land, but Frederick by his speed and 
daring not only astonished but intimidated Han- 
over, the domain of his uncle, and thus another 
province with an outlet on the North Sea was 
added to Prussia. 

Frederick talked of peace while he prepared for 


more war; peace to the HohenzoUerns is desirable 
as long as it is "safe and profitable." The safety 
of the rapidly increasing Prussian kingdom, he 
afiirmed, "rests on a large and efficient army, a full 
treasury, powerful fortresses and showy alliances, 
which easily impose upon the world;" and in talk- 
ing of his army and the physical power of Prussia, 
Frederick once remarked, "When one has an 
advantage, is one to use it or not?" 


THE Second Silesian War (1744-45) was 
entered into by Frederick in an endeavor to 
still further increase his power and terri- 
tory. Again he allied himself with France and 
Bavaria, and before he committed himself to the 
war, he was promised, if the allied armies were suc- 
cessful, certain parts of Bohemia and the fringe 
of Silesia still left in Austrian hands by the Treaty 
of Berlin. Prussia and France ostensibly fought 
to support the Emperor, Charles Albert, of Ba- 
varia, whom Austria had ignominiously defeated; 
Frederick, however, cared nothing for Charles 
Albert, Bavaria or France, but only for Hohen- 
zollern aggrandizement. 

In August, 1744, Frederick gave to the world 
his "reasons" for again waging war on Austria. 
It is a typical Hohenzollern document, false to the 
core, and concealing the facts by sweeping gen- 
eralities: "The race of those Germans of old, who 
for so many centuries defended their fatherland 
and their liberties against all the majesty of the 
Roman Empire, still survives, and will make the 
same defense today against those who dare to con- 
spire against them ... In one word, the 
King asks for nothing, and with him there is no 
question of personal interests. His Majest}^ has 
recourse to arms onlv to restore libertv to the Em- 
pire, the sceptre to the Emperor and peace to 

Frederick forced his way through Saxony (1744) 


with an army of 80,000 men, whom he branded as 
"imperial reinforcements" and showed an Em- 
peror's order for the safe passage of troops, in or- 
der to pacify the outraged Saxons. He took 
Prague, but was soon driven back into Saxony. 
On June 4th, 1745, however, Frederick defeated 
the Austrians at the Battle of Hohenfriedberg in 
Silesia, and his actions after this providential vic- 
tory depict an interesting phase of the man's many- 
sided nature. In the ecstacy of triumph he hugged 
the French Ambassador and was beside himself 
with joy. He amazed all around him and even 
astonished himself by expressing gratitude to God, 
and in the transport of delight and joyous enthusi- 
asm he composed the March of Hohenfriedberg, 

In August, 1745, by the Convention of Han- 
over, Frederick, for the third time, deserted the 
French. On December 15th, the Prussian General 
Leopold of Dessau, ''Der alte Dessauer" won for 
Frederick a decisive victory at Kesselsdorf in 
Saxony, and on Christmas Day, with his army 
sadly depleted, his treasury empty and the French 
indignant at his treachery, Frederick concluded 
with Austria the Peace of Dresden, on the basis of 
the renewal of the 1742 Treaty of Berlin. Fred- 
erick had fought sixteen and a half months, and 
he emerged from his second great war with noth- 
ing to show for having set Europe afire, and, in the 
meantime, Francis of Lorraine, Consort of the 
Austrian Queen, Maria Theresa, had been elected 

Frederick acquired Silesia by force and he spent 
the greater part of his life in struggling to hold it. 
In true HohenzoUern fashion, he always consid- 


ered that Silesia was his, because he coveted it and 
willed it. Only when Frederick was convinced 
that he did not have the power to grab and hold 
additional territory, was he content to remain at 
peace. After the Second Silesian War, which was 
rather disastrous, Frederick preached peace and 
reiterated what he had professed at Dresden, "I 
would not henceforth attack a cat except to defend 

In 1752 he wrote in his Testament that his policy 
was to maintain peace as long as was possible, con- 
sistent with the dignity of Prussia. "We have 
drawn upon ourselves the envy of Europe by the 
acquisition of Silesia. It has put all our neighbors 
on the alert; there is none who does not distrust 

Prussia, under Frederick, was one vast camp. 
He was a militarist and he ran the kingdom and 
every department of it in army fashion. Nobles — 
Junkers — were the officers, the burghers formed 
the commissary department, and the peasants were 
the soldiers or worked in the fields. 

Frederick seemed to have no knowledge of the 
inner spiritual life, no love for his fellow man, of 
whom he was not only suspicious, but contemptu- 
ous. In comparatively modern times, no man has 
lived more cold and calculating, and more indif- 
ferent to the demands of the human spirit. When 
Sulzer, the educational theorist and school inspec- 
tor, said to him, ''In former times, your Majesty, 
the notion being that mankind were naturally 
inclined to evil, a system of severity prevailed in 
schools, but now, when we recognize the inborn 
inclination of men is rather to good than to evil, 


schoolmasters have adopted a more generous pro- 
cedure," Frederick brusquely retorted, "You do 
not know the damned race as I do," and he con- 
tinued, "It is more probable that man sprang from 
evil spirits . . . than from a Being whose 
nature is good." This contempt of the populace 
increased with his advancing years; he repeatedly 
stated that civilians were "destitute alike of ability 
and honor," and he "relied not on the sentiment of 
the nation, but on my army and my purse." 

On one occasion while riding on the Jager 
Strasse, Frederick saw a crowd of people gazing 
with evident enjoyment at a crude caricature 
drawing of himself fastened to a wall above their 
heads. It represented the King with a hard, avari- 
cious face, seated on a stool, a coffee-mill between 
his knees, diligently grinding with one hand, and 
with the other picking up a coffee-bean that had 
fallen from the mill to the ground. Frederick 
looked at the picture, smiled sardonically and com- 
manded his groom to take down the picture and 
"hang it lower, so that the rabble won't hurt their 
necks looking at it." 

At one time Frederick attempted to militarize the 
State schools, to the extent of declaring as an edu- 
cational reform that sergeants, worn out in military 
service, should be the teachers of the young. 
Because teachers in Prussia were inadequately 
compensated for their time and labor, they were 
compelled to resort to other means of obtaining 
a livelihood in conjunction with teaching. An 
Imperial edict of 1763 forbids teachers to eke out 
their incomes bj^ peddling, selling beer or alcoholic 
beverages, or by fiddling in saloons, etc., but sane- 


tions their employment at such occupations as 
tailoring. But when Frederick endeavored to 
make teaching an occupation for military pen- 
sioners he found that his non-commissioned officers 
were grossly ignorant men. It is interesting to 
note that out of 3,443 sergeant-pensioners depu- 
tized to teach school, the military authorities 
reported that only 79 were "possibly fit to serve," 
and an investigation by the civil authorities reduced 
this number very materially. Of course, real 
officers, who were the Prussian Junkers and 
nobility, could not be expected to humiliate them- 
selves by serving as teachers, neither would Fred- 
erick tolerate any such profane plan or thought; 
he was an unwavering advocate of class adherence 
and the reverence of caste. He maintained that 
with well developed class consciousness "there was 
little likelihood of any national resistance to the 

Frederick believed not only in soulless, rigid 
discipline, but in heartless, cruel punishment. 
"Make the discipline so stern and the punishment 
so severe that the men will learn to fear their own 
superiors more than the enemy." Prof. Martin 
Phippson says, "The punishments were barbarous. 
Thrashings were customary. Imprisonment sharp- 
ened by all kinds of chastisement and torment was 
not rare . . . Hundreds of wretched men 
gave up the ghost under these tortures." 

Frederick considered the Church and Ministry 
useful to the dynasty, for they taught the common 
people to obey their masters and not to rob and 
murder. The Prussian Kaiser declared that he 
did not care what religious belief was held, or what 


creed was accepted and ritual used, provided the 
pastors controlled their flocks and made them sub- 
missive to their King and their superiors in the 
State. Frederick was the head of the Prussian 
Lutheran Church, whose clergy preached the 
divine right of kings, but he jeered in private at 
their religious beliefs, and even at times made con- 
temptuous observances in public. The Prussian 
King professed his willingness to build mosques 
for the Turks and temples for all the heathens that 
settled in Prussia; he was tolerant of the Roman 
Catholics, and built a splendid church for them 
near the royal palace in Berlin, but he ridiculed 
Roman Catholicism. In later years, Frederick 
welcomed the fugitive Jesuits driven from the do- 
mains of other Kings, including monarchs of the 
Romanist faith, and welcomed their assistance as 
educators of the common people. He was quite 
inconsistent, however, in his expression of religious 
toleration, and after the acquisition of part of 
Poland, when he imposed a tax of twenty-five per 
cent, upon the net revenue of the nobility, he 
favored Protestants to the extent of rebating one- 
fifth of their tax. Frederick would readily have 
made a treaty with the devil himself, if by so doing 
he could have increased the military power and 
wealth of Prussia and the prestige among nations 
of the Hohenzollern dj^nasty. Carlyle said that 
under Frederick "the reverent men feel themselves 
to be a body of spiritual corporals, sergeants and 
captains to whom obedience is the rule and discon- 
tent not to be indulged in by any means." 

Frederick permitted no check on his absolutism 
from any class of society or from the military or 


ecclesiastical organizations. He himself was the 
executive, the legislative and the judiciary, and 
there was no branch of government that did not 
rest in the Hohenzollern despot. Like his ances- 
tors, Frederick had no use for representative 
bodies or privileged assemblies; he would tolerate 
no brake upon the use of that supreme power which 
rested in him as absolute ruler of the realm and 
dictator over the destiny of his country and his 
people. Frederick did not welcome or even tol- 
erate advice; "Good counsel does not come from 
nimibers" was a maxim of his, and he affirmed that 
all great inventions and discoveries originated in 
one man; — "As Minerva sprang armed from the 
head of Jupiter, so must a policy spring from 
the head of a prince." Frederick stood firm for the 
traditional absolutism of the HohenzoUerns, and 
being without legitimate issue, he admonished his 
3^ounger brother "Xot to depart from the prin- 
ciples and the systems which our fathers intro- 
duced. If you do you will be the first to suffer 
from it." 

Frederick despised the German language. He 
called it "a language of boors," and spoke it very 
indifferently. He did nothing whatever for Ger- 
man literature and German scholarship ; he treated 
Goethe with contempt and even declined to assist 
Lessing to the extent of giving him the small post 
of Royal Librarian. He apparently liked to have 
learned foreigners, particularly Frenchmen, 
around him in the evenings, although he was not a 
cultivated scholar ; he was rather a superficial dilet- 
tante, desultory and caustic, and ever expressing 
a most nauseating, self-satisfied egoism. His wit 


was cruel, and any one who responded was soon 
made aware that the license to talk and freely 
express opinions was an exclusive, princely privi- 
lege; it was a royal prerogative. With sublime 
egotism he acted on the assumption of infallibility 
in thought, word and deed. The King of Prussia 
could not only do no wrong, but he could not even 
think or speak erroneously. 

Voltaire was with Frederick at Potsdam for 
three years (1750-53), and he described his new 
home as "Sparta and Athens joined in one, noth- 
ing but reviewing and poetry day by day." But 
in his heart Voltaire despised Frederick and 
detested his poetical attempts, even though at times 
he admired his executive genius. After a desperate 
quarrel, Voltaire fled the Court, but before he suc- 
ceeded in leaving the domain of Frederick he was 
humiliated by capture, arrest and forcible deten- 
tion, and was subjected to indignities which he 
could not forgive. 

Frederick posed as a woman hater and would 
not endure the presence of any woman for any 
length of time. In his letter to Grumbkow, in 
regard to his coming marriage, he declared, "I 
shall put her (Elizabeth of Brunswick-Bevern) 
awav as soon as I am master ... I am not 
of the wood out of which good husbands are 
carved. ... I love the fair sex and mjT- love 
is very inconstant; I am for enjoyment, afterwards 
I despise it." Reddaway has said, "In his concep- 
tion of the political world and of Prussia's place 
in it, acuteness and lack of profundity are apparent. 
The acuteness is indeed impaired because of the 
existence of two political factors that Frederick 


never understood, — honesty and women. 
During Frederick's lifetime, women played an 
unusually prominent part in Europe, and his mis- 
judgment of them was a serious political defect. 
Prussia suffered severely for his belief that Maria 
Theresa was pliable, Elizabeth of Russia was inca- 
pable, the Pompadour insignificant, and Catherine 
II. of Russia shallow." 


IN the First Silesian War (1740-42), Fred- 
erick, in true brigand and HohenzoUern fash- 
ion, ruthlessly grabbed Silesia; in 1744-45 he 
sought to increase Prussian territory, and the 
Second Silesian War resulted in a conflict for the 
retention of Silesia. In 1756, after ten years of 
peace, Frederick suddenly made war once more on 
Austria, treated Saxony with violence and plunged 
Europe into the Seven- Year War, which, as 
Carlyle said, set almost the whole globe on fire. 
HohenzoUern Machiavellism was rapidly develop- 
ing and crystallizing under the dominance of this 
unscrupulous, ever-scheming King. The first 
Silesian adventure was crude brigandry ; the second 
Silesian war was an ambitious, aggressive war, 
palmed off as a conflict between opposing ideals, in 
which Frederick, with his eyes on Moravia and 
Bohemia, posed as the champion of the real Ger- 
man race; but the third Silesian war was heralded 
as a "defensive" and "preventive" conflict, and 
gave the Hohenzollerns and their Ministers the 
excuse for the more recent wars which added to 
Prussian power, and for the Great World War, 
which will teach them, as Leipsic and Waterloo 
taught Napoleon, that retribution for diabohcal 
falseness is inevitable. 

Notwithstanding the Treaty of Berlin (1742) 
that gave Frederick title to Silesia, which he had 
grabbed in 1740, and notwithstanding the reaffirma- 
tion of the treaty in 1745, after the Second Silesian 


War, the fact that the territory had been won by 
force of arms and that he had been given the deci- 
sion, void of all justice and moral right, caused 
Frederick the mental harassment of a pillaging 
outlaw who, with his plunder, is momentarily 
expecting some power stronger than his own, to 
burst in his barricaded door and take from him his 
ill-gotten gain. Even though the Prussian King 
calumniated Maria Theresa on every possible occa- 
sion, in his heart he greatly respected her and 
recognized not only her courage, but her spiritual 
superiority. He knew that the Austrian Queen's 
religious faith gave her not only hope but confi- 
dence that some day right would prevail, and God 
would effectively settle the account of an outraged 
civilization with the arrogant, law-defying Hohen- 
zoUern dynasty. 

In January, 1756, by the Convention of West- 
minster, Frederick made a treaty with Britain by 
which he bound himself to defend Hanover — part 
of the British Empire — against attack. After 
entering into this solemn agreement with Britain, 
he then courted favor with France, turned a sym- 
pathetic ear to the French plan for assisting the 
Young Pretender to the British throne, and 
advised in regard to the military phases of the 

Russia, as long as the Czarina Elizabeth ruled, 
was virtually allied with Austria and Maria 
Theresa. In his dealings with Russia, Frederick 
had been very injudicious. On one occasion he 
declared, "I fear Russia more than God," and then 
he openly blackened the character of the vain and 
foolish Russian Queen, bringing upon himself the 


vengeance of an outraged woman, who freely 
expressed her desire to chastise "the Prussian 
upstart" who took pleasure in maligning her. 

By the Treaty of Versailles in May, 1756, 
France and Austria each undertook to defend the 
European possessions of the other, if attacked. 
The articles of this covenant were published, but 
Frederick, who had concluded the Convention of 
Westminster and was flirting with France, con- 
sidered that the Treaty of Versailles "menaced" 
Prussia. He put his army in condition for the 
field and indicted his old enemy, saying, "The Em- 
press (Maria Theresa) proposes to imitate the con- 
duct of Augustus (in the Triumvirate of Augus- 
tus, Antony and Lepidus) who used the power of 
his colleagues to aggrandize himself and then over- 
threw them one bv one. The Court of Vienna has 
three designs toward which her present steps are 
tending — to establish her despotism in the Empire, 
to ruin the Protestant cause, and to reconquer 
Silesia. She regards the King of Prussia as the 
great obstacle to her vast designs." 

Frederick posed as the champion of the Balance 
of Power and of Protestantism; he solicited the 
support of the states not committed to the Austrian 
cause, and this "Defender of the Protestant Chris- 
tian religion" even proposed that the Turks should 
come to his aid. Podewils struggled with Fred- 
erick, urging him to keep the peace and to work 
for peace, but he was coldly dismissed with the 
words, "Adieu, thou faint-hearted statesman" and 
accused of lese majeste. The Prussian King sent 
an ultimatum to Vienna, in which he demanded 
explicit information in regard to the plans of Aus- 


tria and Russia, and required guarantees. The 
Austrian answer, Frederick declared, was "imper- 
tinent, high and contemptuous, and as for the 
assurance that I ask of them, not a word, so that the 
sword alone can cut this Gordian knot. . . . 
We must think only of making war in such a fash- 
ion as to deprive our enemies of the desire to break 
the peace too soon." 

When the Seven- Year War broke out, Fred- 
erick had a well trained and splendidly equipped 
army of 150,000 men, which was equivalent to one- 
seventh of the available male population of the 
Prussian kingdom, and he had eleven million 
thalers in the Treasury. During the horrible war 
— in many respects as disastrous as the "religious" 
Thirty- Year War — 850,000 men perished on the 
battlefields of Europe, an unprecedented number, 
considering that the war was fought with only 
occasional pitched battles and with relatively small 
armies. Prussia lost 180,000 men, the population 
of the Hohenzollern domain decreased by half a 
million souls during the period of hostilities, and 
the misery and poverty on the Continent, indirectly 
attendant on the war, was incalculable. 


SAXONY was the Belgium of the Seven- Year 
War, for the Prussian Kaiser's military plan 
— he was his own General Staff — required 
that Austrian territory be reached by violating the 
neutrality and sanctity of the Saxon kingdom. 
King Augustus of Saxony was promptly notified, 
"With every expression of my affection and of 
your respect that good breeding can supply," that 
Prussia was compelled by the action of the ruling 
powers of Austria to send its army through 
Saxony, in order that it might promptly and vig- 
orously strike the foes of Prussia on Austrian soil 
(Bohemia) before they were ready to successfully 
withstand such an attack. "The domain of the 
King of Saxony," wrote Frederick, "will be spared 
as far as present circumstances allow. My troops 
will behave with perfect order and discipUne. . . . 
I desire nothing more ardently than to behold the 
happy moment of peace, so that I may prove to 
the Saxon King the full extent of my friendship, 
and place him once more in the tranquil possession 
of all his estates, against which I have never had 
any hostile designs." 

Saxony was dumbfounded ; she declared her neu- 
trality, but permitted Prussian troops to pass 
through the land without offering resistance. A 
few days later Frederick announced his instruc- 
tions for the administration of Saxony during the 
war. "In order that His Majesty (Frederick) 
may not leave a highly dangerous enemy in his 


rear," the Prussians are directed to suspend the 
Saxon administration of the land and substitute 
martial law with a Prussian Directory. The Saxon 
royal revenue amounted to six million thalers per 
annum, but Frederick magnanimously states that 
he "will be contented with five millions, so that the 
inhabitants may be solaced thereby." Saxony was 
converted into an armed base for the invasion of 

When Augustus of Saxony perceived what 
Frederick's intentions really were, he left his Capi- 
tol (Dresden), which the Prussians soon after- 
wards entered (September 10th), and joined his 
little army, with strength variously stated as from 
fourteen to twenty thousand men. This brave little 
band held the entrenched camp of Pirna, close to 
the Bohemian frontier, and blocked the highway 
of the Elbe. Although a weak man, Augustus 
struggled to act honorably; he offered to observe a 
benevolent neutrality and requested Frederick to 
prepare an exact statement of what would be 
required of Saxony. To this Frederick replied 
that the only way that Saxony could have peace 
with Prussia was to ally herself with Prussia and 
wage war on Austria. Augustus responded that he 
could not wage war upon Maria Theresa, "who has 
given me no cause for complaint, and to whom, in 
virtue of an old defensive alliance, ... I 
ought to furnish six thousand men." He reiterated 
his assurance of neutrality, to which Frederick 
retorted that "he never changed his mind" and if 
Augustus forced him to wage war on Saxony, he, 
Augustus, must take the entire responsibility. 
The Austrians attempted to relieve the Saxon 


army besieged at Pirna; the battle which they 
fought at Lobositz (October 1st), opposite Leit- 
meritz, was indecisive — each losing 3,000 men and 
being incapable of forward movement. The Aus- 
trians failed, however, to effect a union with the 
Saxon forces, who were starved into submission, 
and on October 14th laid down their arms. The 
terms of surrender required that they be permitted 
to disband and return without molestation to their 
homes, to engage in peaceful occupations, but Fred- 
erick, being a HohenzoUern, promptly repudiated 
his agreement and "word of honor" and conscripted 
the Saxons, against their will, into the Prussian 
army. Augustus lost his army and his kingdom, 
but he delayed Prussia's march into Austria, and 
winter came upon the warring armies before Fred- 
erick could attempt to move in force into Hapsburg 
territory. To Schwerin he wrote, "It is now im- 
possible for us to establish a sure footing in 
Bohemia this year, for we have entered the province 
too late; we must confine ourselves to protecting 
Silesia and covering Saxony." 

As an exile in Poland, Augustus was a constant 
rebuke to Frederick, and throughout the period of 
the war a pathetic exhibit of Prussian methods. It 
has been said by a historian that "The spectacle of 
the suffering King inflamed all his enemies. As an 
exile in Warsaw, Augustus was a more valuable 
allv to Austria than he could have been in Dresden. 
He made it absurd for Frederick to pose as the 
Defender of German princes against the Haps- 
burgs. Indeed, in January, 1757, a majority 
of such princes at the Diet of Ratisbon urged the 


Austrian dynasty "to marshal their corporate 
might against the Prussian aggressor." 

As soon as Frederick's troops entered Dresden, 
in true HohenzoUern fashion, he ransacked the 
archives of the Saxon Capital in an attempt to find 
papers which could be distorted to prove that 
Saxony and Austria had conspired together to 
attack Prussia. In every detail, the unscrupulous, 
ruthless and dishonest methods employed by the 
Hohenzollerns in the present great World War 
seem to have had their prototypes in earlier Prus- 
sian history. 

Frederick soon discovered that the Saxons, whom 
he forced to serve in his army, were unreliable ser- 
vants, in their hearts like all their countrymen, bitter 
foes to his ruthless militarism. Like Napoleon, he 
had to learn by bitter experience that men cannot 
be forced to fight with spirit, and that patriotism is 
greater than military coercion. It was the Saxons 
who deserted the ranks of Napoleon, the Corsican 
upstart, and, going over to the allies, turned their 
guns upon the French at Leipsic in the Wars of 

Frederick commenced the 1757 campaign with 
250,000 men, of whom 45,000 were paid for by 
British subsidies and disposed to cover Hanover 
from a French attack. The Battle of Prague, 
fought on May 6th, 1757, was the first great battle 
of the war, and one of the most savage conflicts in 
history. Frederick had the failing of all military 
despots, — in announcing either victories or defeats 
he never told the real truth. All victories were 
"glorious beyond words;" all defeats were either 
"indecisive engagements" or "unimportant re- 


verses." The saying in Napoleon's day, "As false 
as a bulletin," is applicable to the HohenzoUerns of 
all time. The Battle of Prague was said to be a 
decisive victory; "The Austrians were scattered like 
chaff before the wind," and "We are masters of a 
kingdom that must supply us with troops and 
money." But Frederick's generalship at Prague 
had resulted in the unwarranted butchering of his 
own men. The Austrian loss in defeat was 10,000 
men killed and wounded, and 4,275 prisoners out of 
total effectives of 66,000 men, which was 21.6 per 
cent., whereas the victors lost 11,740 men killed and 
wounded and 1,560 prisoners out of total effectives 
of 64,000 men, or 20.8 per cent, of their fighting 
strength. Frederick wrote his sister and made pub- 
lic the statement that he had lost 5,000 men killed 
and wounded, although he himself computed his 
loss at 18,000. 

The Battle of Prague did not result in the cap- 
ture of the city by the Prussians. Frederick bom- 
barded Prague in a way that brought them little, if 
any, military advantage, and caused great suffering 
to the inhabitants. On May 24th, he wrote, "This 
race of Austrian princes and beggars will be obliged 
to lay down their arms." On May 29th he informed 
his sister that he would be in Prague within a week. 
On June 11th he thought it might take three weeks 
to subdue the city, and on June 20th, after the 
humiliation of Kolin, his besieging army was com- 
pelled to abandon their attempt to take the city. At 
Kolin, Frederick suffered a positive defeat. He lost 
6,710 men killed and wounded, and 5,380 prisoners 
out of a total fighting force of 34,000 men, or 35.6 
per cent, of his effectives, whereas the Austrian 


total loss was 15 per cent, of their total fighting 
force of 53,500 men (6,500 killed and wounded and 
1,500 prisoners). It is said, however, that half of 
Frederick's entire army and two-thirds of his infan- 
try were lost to him, including desertions and the 
troops that were scattered, and of which only a part 
could be collected and reorganized for some time; 
and yet he wrote, "We found the country so difiicult 
that I believed myself bound to abandon the enter- 
prise in order not to lose my army." His secretary, 
Eichel, in official despatches to Berlin, spoke of the 
battlefield's gentle slopes as "A steep mountain, cut 
by many ravines and defiles." 

In military adversity, Frederick, in true Hohen- 
zoUern fashion, organized his peace offensives; he 
swore to his allies (Britain — who was primarily 
waging war on France — Brunswick and Hesse- 
Cassel) that he would not consider a separate peace, 
but he urged that "it would be for their mutual 
interests to think of terms of peace, honorable and 
safe," and to see what terms could be obtained. Not- 
withstanding such assurances to his allies, he sent an 
envoy to France to endeavor to make a separate 
peace between Louis XV. and himself, by bribing 
the King's mistress, Madame de Pompadour. "He 
(the emissary) may offer the favorite anything up 
to half a million crowns for peace, and he may raise 
his offer far higher, if, at the same time, she would 
promise to procure us some advantages. You see 
all the nicety of which I have need in this affair and 
how little I must be seen in it. If England should 
have the least wind of it, all would be lost." 

In July, 1757, the French had seized East Frisia 
and were advancing East, the Swedes were in Pom- 


erania and the Russians in East Prussia, Bohemia 
had to be abandoned and Frederick feared for 
Saxony, Silesia and even Brandenburg itself. The 
dauntless Marshal Schwerin had fallen at Prague, 
and it was said by Frederick's foes, "In Voltaire, 
the Prussian Kaiser has lost his pen, and in 
Schwerin, his sword." At this time, Frederick still 
posed as a champion of German liberty, who was 
willing to suffer martyrdom for the greatness of the 
cause. "Germany is passing through a terrible 
crisis. I am obliged to stand alone in defending her 
liberties and her faith. If I fall, there will be an end 
of them. . . . However great may be the num- 
ber of my enemies, I trust in the goodness of my 
cause and in the admirable courage of my troops." 
Frederick made light of his ignominious defeat at 
Kolin and sent out ridiculous excuses and falsified 
reports of the battle. But shortly afterwards the 
Austrians out-manoeuvered Frederick's brother. 
Prince Augustus William, heir to the Prussian 
throne, and compelled him to flee; the Prussian 
King was required to rescue his brother and his 
army, and his treatment of his unfortunate brother 
is one of the most contemptible episodes of his life. 
He refused to permit either himself or his officers 
and men to come into close contact with Augustus 
William and his forces. He treated them "as if they 
were lepers" and feared "that their cowardice and 
fear of the enemy" might contaminate his own 
troops. He, who had himself just tasted the dregs 
of bitter defeat, sent General Goltz to his unlucky 
brother with this message, — "His Majesty bids me 
tell your Royal Highness that he has cause to be 
very dissatisfied with you. You deserve that a 


court martial should be held over you and that you 
and all the generals with jon should lose your 

The Hohenzollerns demand success; failure on 
the part of others is unforgivable. If the King 
meets with a reverse it is destiny or God's will; if 
any subordinate fails, it is gross incompetency or 
lack of courage, for which there can be no legitimate 
excuse. Prince Augustus William exculpated his 
generals and urged that a strict, unbiased investiga- 
tion be made of his own actions; but Frederir 
declined to consider the matter further and sent his 
young brother and heir to the Prussian throne bacV 
to Berlin, where the sensitive young man, humiliated 
and later brutally ignored by the King, sickened 
and died of a broken heart. 

As the first half of the year 1757 ended, Fred- 
erick likened himself to Job, chastened by God. In 
addition to military defeats, he heard of the death 
of his mother, and Eichel tells us that the King's 
grief "was very great and violent." Recently, his 
old affection, or at least interest in his mother and 
sister, had revived, and his rather regular corre- 
spondence with Wilhelmina suggests that the lone- 
some King felt the need of some one of his own 
flesh and blood to whom he could pour out his inner- 
most feelings in times of triumph and joy, or failure 
and despair. There is no doubt that the relations 
of Frederick to his once devoted mother and sister 
represented his strongest human ties. While he was 
alternately experiencing victory and defeat in his 
military campaigns, even though he could virtually 
murder a brother by inhuman brutality, he seemed 
to draw close again to the two women who had stood 


by him so nobly and sacrificed so much for him in 
his boyhood. 

Frederick appeared deeply grieved by the death 
of Wilhelmina, which occurred on the eve of Hoch- 
kirch (October, 1758), but whether his greatest sor- 
row at that time was caused by the loss of a sister or 
the loss of a battle, no one knows. "If my head," he 
remarked, "had within it a lake of tears it would not 
be enough for my grief." The death of his brother, 
Augustus William, did not disturb Frederick in the 
least, other than the annoyance it caused him. His 
still younger brother, Prince Henry, was so out- 
raged at Frederick's heartless treatment of Au- 
gustus William, that he positively dechned to see 
the Royal despot except on business and aflfairs of 


AT Weissenfels, October 31st, 1757, Frederick 
owed his life to the chivalry of a French 
officer, who forbade an artilleryman to pick 
him off. On November 3rd, he crossed the Saale 
and found the French in force in so strong a posi- 
tion that he retired, fearing another Kolin. Two 
days later Eichel reported the unsatisfactory mili- 
tary condition to the Prussian Government, w^hich 
had taken refuge in Magdeburg, and proclaimed for 
his royal master that "The whole war is of no avail. 
May you soon make a good peace." At this time 
Europe thought that the despairing Frederick was 
ruined, but fortune smiled upon him once more. 
The French and their allies were showing impetu- 
osity, miserable generalship and ignorance of the 
first rudiments of war, and at Rossbach, Frederick 
turned what seemed to be hopeless desperation into 
a brilliant military triumph ; it was not a battle, but 
a fight between organized attacking Prussian 
troops, who swooped down unexpectedly, and a mob 
taken by surprise as they were hurrying wildly for- 
ward to get into position to flank the Prussians, who 
were believed to be in retreat. 

The victory at Rossbach was most timely for the 
Prussian cause. The armv was almost worn out, 
but the cavalry under Seydlitz, aided only by the 
fire of eighteen guns and seven battahons of infan- 
try, only two of which fired more than five rounds 
in about forty-five minutes' time, put a disorganized 
army of some 64,000 men, all told, to full flight. 


Reddaway has said, "At the cost of about 500 men, 
Frederick destroyed an army of nearly 50,000 and 
made himself the hero of the Teuton race." 

Frederick's spirits rose from zero to high heat 
with amazing rapidity. "He jeered at the van- 
quished enemy in blasphemous French verses and 
set to work to reap the fruits of (unexpected) vic- 
tory." With courage revived he marched to Silesia. 
"We must hope for peace," he wrote, "but it seems 
that our enemies have determined to destroy the 
human race." Frederick again became discouraged 
as he learned of Austrian victories and the disasters 
that had in the meanwhile befallen his Silesian 
army. Bevern had been beaten at Moys, near Gor- 
litz (September 7th), and in the Battle of Breslau 
(October 22nd) had been compelled to retire behind 
the Oder, leaving the fortresses of Schweidnitz and 
Breslau to capitulate within a few days. By forced 
marches Frederick joined his small army with the 
forces of Bevern at Parschwitz on December 4th. 
With an army of 43,000 men he once more gambled 
his all on a pitched battle with Prince Charles, and 
won against a force of 72,000 Austrians, Bavarians 
and Wiirttembergers at Leuthen (December 5th, 
1757), and again wrested Silesia from the Haps- 
burgs and gained undying fame for Prussian arms. 

The victory of Leuthen was made decisive by the 
brilliant action of some forty weak squadrons of 
cavalry (about half the number of the total Prus- 
sian horse), which had been placed under Driessen 
as a flank guard. Driessen promptly seized his 
opportunity when the Austrian cavalry under 
Luchesi — unaware of the Prussian mounted reserve 
squadrons — charged the Prussian infantry. He set 


his forces in motion, attacked with vigor and drove 
the Austrians back on their own infantry, throwing 
the entire left wing into wild confusion and thereby- 
causing the ruin of the whole army. It is character- 
istic that when the news of Driessen's timely and 
wonderfully successful charge reached Frederick, 
that monarch, in astonishment, remarked, "What! 
that old fool Driessen?" 

In August, 1756, Frederick had plunged prac- 
tically all of Europe into one of the greatest and 
bloodiest wars of all time; in December, 1757, after 
his prestige had been miraculously saved by the vic- 
tories of Rossbach and Leuthen, Frederick craved 
for peace. In January, 1758, he wrote, "If the year 
upon which I am entering is to be as cruel as that 
which is at an end, I hope it will be my last," and 
again, "I swear to give thanks to heaven on the day 
when I can descend from the tight rope on which I 
am forced to dance." 

With the usual HohenzoUern contempt for truth, 
Frederick announced that at a sacrifice of less than 
4,000 Prussians he had reduced the Austrian forces 
by over 47,000 men, and Prince Charles' army now 
consisted of no more than 13,000 infantry and 9,000 
cavalry. The Prussian losses at Leuthen were 
6,200 men, i. e., 14.14 per cent, of their effectives, 
while the Austrian losses have been estimated at 
from 22,000 to 27,000, of whom it is said by vari- 
ous historians that from 12,000 to 20,000 were 
captured ; but the Austrian Silesian army, notwith- 
standing its probable loss of some 33 per cent, 
killed, wounded and prisoners, still consisted of 
about 45,000 to 50,000 men and was strong enough 
to hold the Prussians if it had been well commanded. 


During the campaign of 1757, the Prussians had 
lost heavily in man power, and the weakening of 
his armed forces in numbers and quality, and his 
close proximity on several occasions to ignominious 
defeat, caused Frederick great concern. He wrote 
that if the victory of Leuthen "does not lead to 
peace, no success in war will ever pave the way 
thither"; and he promptly made peace overtures to 
Maria Theresa. But Austria's Queen had courage, 
determination and faith, and she refused to nego- 
tiate with a man whom she branded as an outlaw, 
void of all honor and conscience. 

Frederick procured money for his military cam- 
paigns in the typical HohenzoUern-Prussian man- 
ner. The inhabitants, and more particularly the 
Junkers of Brandenburg, and of Prussia proper, 
were spared as much as possible; but those inhabi- 
tants of his domains not blessed with the sacred 
blood of Prussia coursing through their veins, were 
made to suffer in order that Prussia might obtain 
the needed sinews of war. In January, 1758, 
Frederick demanded three hundred thousand tha- 
lers of the merchants of Breslau (Silesia), and to 
their reply that such a sum was impossible to raise, 
he retorted, "I will cook something for you if this 
money is not forthcoming immediately and with- 
out argument." 

Reddaway says, "The chief granary of the Prus- 
sian army was, whenever possible, the territory of 
the enemy. The second great source of supplies 
consisted in those countries which the fortunes of 
war had placed in their hands. *Mark well the 
contributions of Mecklenburg,' was Frederick's 
order to General Dohna. *Take hostages and 


threaten the Duke's bailiffs with fire and plunder- 
ing to make them pay promptly.' But by far the 
heaviest burden fell upon the Saxons," (the Bel- 
gians of the Seven- Year War). "Besides syste- 
matically draining them of cash, Frederick resorted 
to what he termed ^reprisals' at their expense when- 
ever *the allies of the King of Poland' " (i. e., 
Augustus III, Elector of Saxony and King of 
Poland, who had been compelled to flee and was 
exiled by Frederick from his Saxon domains) 
"pillaged any of his dominions." Innocent Saxon 
people were thus made the scapegoats for the sins 
or indiscretions of the Russians, French, Austrians 
and Swedish armies, and were the constant mark 
for Frederick's wrath. 

Frederick's campaigns in 1758 were expressive 
of his egoistic belief that Prussian armies led by 
himself were invincible, and that he, the great Fred- 
erick, could do everything that he had the will to 
do. The result was that he encountered a reverse 
at the hands of the Austrians at Domstadtl (June 
30th), which he admitted was "a terrible contre- 
temps," compelling him to abandon the siege of 
Olmiitz, as he had lost 4,000 wagons of supplies 
and 2,400 men; with such a heavy transport loss 
the maintenance of his armies in Moravia became 
impossible. Frederick admitted that the advantage 
over the Austrians, which he believed he held at the 
end of 1757, was lost by the reverse before 

On August 25th he fought the Russians at Zorn- 
dorf in one of the bloodiest battles of the war. 
Frederick "won," thanks to two brilliant cavalry 
charges of Seydlitz, delivered at exactlv the right 


moment at the right place ; but to gain the victory, 
generally accredited to him, Frederick lost some 
11,000 to 14,000 men of his total force of 36,000, 
and the Russians who numbered 42,000 men, and 
lost almost half, were not driven from the field but 
fought again the following day, two miles north- 
ward of their original positions ; they sent off bulle- 
tins of victory and did not retire until a week later 
when they marched leisurely away, unmolested by 
the much-punished Prussians. 

At Zorndorf, Frederick would have been badly 
defeated had it not been for Seydlitz, who refused 
to obey the Prussian King's command to advance 
his dragoons point-blank at the Russian artillery. 
Seydlitz replied to the royal orders, "When and 
where needed, I will be on hand with my men, but 
what you order would be foolish suicide, productive 
of no good." Frederick retorted in wrath, "After 
the battle you will answer for insubordination, with 
your head." Seydlitz justified his military judg- 
ment by charging with his forces twice at the proper 
time and saved the day for the Prussians. In the 
delight of being rescued from a humiliating defeat, 
Frederick forgot all about the insubordination and 
"head" of Seydlitz and embraced him with delight 
at the close of one of the hardest battles of his 

On October 14th, Frederick again fought the 
Austrians at Hochkirch, lost one-fourth of his army, 
five of his generals and over a hundred guns, and 
he closed the military year of 1758 with his third 
defeat, within a period of sixteen months (Kolin, 
Domstadtl and Hochkirch), suffered at the hands 
of the cautious Austrian General Daun, known as 


"Fahiiis Cunctator/' It is said that the Pope was 
so dehghted with Daun's military genius in defense 
of Austria against the aggressive and unscrupulous 
Frederick, that he rewarded him with a consecrated 
hat and sword. 

The Prussian defeat at Hochkirch was due to 
Frederick's impetuosity, his contempt for the Aus- 
trians and his refusal to listen to the advice of his 
Generals. Seydlitz, Zieten and Dessauer (the 
Younger) vigorously objected to the Prussian 
King's plan of battle. Keith protestingly said, "If 
the Austrians permit us to quietly occupy such a 
position of weakness which invites attack, they de- 
serve to be hanged," but Frederick retorted, "It is 
to be hoped that they fear us more than the gal- 
lows," and with obstinate foolhardiness ordered 
movements to begin which resulted in a pronounced 
defeat for Prussian arms. 

Frederick lost from 8,000 to 10,000 men at 
Hochkirch, about one-quarter of his effectives, and 
over 100 guns, as against an Austrian loss of some 
7,500 men, or 8.4 per cent, of their fighting force. 
But the Prussian King's official report of the battle, 
forwarded to Berlin, says: "It may be safely reck- 
oned that our loss does not exceed 3,000 men," and 
commenting on the disaster to Prussian arms, he 
said, "Such reverses are at times inevitable in the 
great game of chance which we call war." When- 
ever Frederick won in the field it was a brilliani! 
victory achieved by his unequalled genius ; when he 
lost it was a reverse or strategic withdrawal decreed 
by fate. Frederick never acknowledged a mistake. 
The King could do no wrong. God might err in 


His decision but the Hohenzollern King of the 
Prussians was faultless in his judgment. 

During the campaign of 1758, Frederick had 
met with two reverses and gained one questionable 
victory, he had lost over 21,000 trained fighting 
men, many of his greatest officers and much equip- 
ment and wealth. Some of his domain had been 
laid waste by invading armies, but outside of East 
Prussia he held the territory that had been his 
immediately prior to the war. 

After three seasons of war, 1756-1757 and 1758, 
Frederick was amazed to find that his enemies still 
had a determination to fight. He had been posi- 
tive that in 1758 some of the countries at war would 
retire from the combat, discouraged at the strain 
of what seemed to be an unprofitable war. He was 
amazed that the women allied against him, Maria 
Theresa of Austria, Elizabeth of Russia, and the 
still dominant Pompadour — his avowed enemy — 
had not long ago sickened of the war, and he could 
not understand how the Mistress of Louis XV 
could still hold sway, when the French, because of 
her whims, prejudices and fancies were losing their 
empire to the British. 


THE campaign of 1759 opened with reverses 
to Prussian troops in Poland. Dohna with 
18,000 men proved unable to arrest Russian 
progress. He was superseded by Wedell, and at 
Kay Ziillichau, on July 23rd, the Prussians rein- 
forced to the number of 26,000 men, were defeated 
with a loss of from 6,000 to 8,000 men by a Russian 
force of some 70,000 effectives under Soltykoff. 
When Frederick heard of the collapse of his Polish 
army and that an Austrian force under Hadik was 
advancing on Berlin, he left Mark-Lissa w^here he 
was opposing Daun and hurried to meet the Rus- 
sian force under Soltykoff, which had recently been 
reinforced by Laudon. "I am obliged to make 
haste to parry his ( Soltykoff 's) blow in time. A 
lost soul in purgatory is not in a more wretched 
condition than I am." 

The opposing armies met at Kunersdorf (Au- 
gust 12th), and in fighting power and weight there 
was little to choose between them, although the 
Russo-Austrian army brought into the conflict, 
numbered about sixty -five thousand men to the 
Prussians' forty-eight thousand. Frederick was 
not favored by a choice of ground. Early in the 
afternoon the Prussians' right was victorious, sev- 
enty guns were captured and the King sent off a 
courier to Berlin to announce a great victory. 
From this point on, Frederick ignored his Generals, 
and when the battle turned against him, he lost his 
head, and although he personally struggled bravely, 


his orders were reckless and contrary to military- 
good sense. 

The Prussians at Kunersdorf lost 20,720 men, 
or about 43 per cent, of their effectives, also 178 
guns and 28 colors; the Russo- Austrian army lost 
1.5,700 men, all told, or about 24 per cent, of their 
engaged strength, and this in a battle that lasted 
only six hours. The Prussian reverse at Kuners- 
dorf is generally described by historians as the 
greatest calamity that Frederick ever experienced. 

Frederick, his hopes blasted, sought death in the 
battle, but he was borne from the field by a squad- 
ron of his Hussars. Immediately after Kuners- 
dorf, the Prussian King wrote, "It is my misfor- 
tune to be still alive. Our loss is great; not 3,000 
men out of 48,000 are with me. At this moment 
all are in flight and I am no longer master of my 
troops." Frederick advised the prominent and 
wealthy citizens of Berlin to flee to Hamburg and 
the Government to move to Magdeburg. He 
wrote Schmettau, commanding at Dresden, telling 
him to expect no help, and on September 4th, 
Dresden fell. Writing to his Minister, the Prus- 
sian King said, "All is lost save the royal family. 
The consequences of this battle will be worse than 
the battle itself." Frederick had carried poison with 
him for years and now intended to use it; he 
feigned a severe sickness, turned the army over to 
General Finck, demanding that it — the instrument 
of the Crown — swear allegiance to the son of his 
dead brother, Augustus William. 

The battle of Kunersdorf ended in a rout far 
greater than that suffered by Napoleon on the field 
of Waterloo, and Frederick barely escaped falling 


into the hands of his conquerors. Macaulay says: 
*' Shattered in body, shattered in mind, the King 
reached that night a village which the Cossacks had 
plundered ; and there in a ruined and deserted farm- 
house, flung himself on a heap of straw. The de- 
feat was in truth overwhelming. Of fifty thousand 
men who had that morning marched under the black 
eagle, not three thousand remained together. The 
King bethought him again of his corrosive sub- 
limate, and wrote to bid adieu to his friends and to 
give directions as to the measures to be taken in the 
event of his death. *I have no resource left,' such 
is the language of one of his letters — ^*A11 is lost. 
I will not survive the ruin of my country. Fare- 
well, forever!' " 

If the Russians and Austrians had followed up 
their success at Kunersdorf, Prussia would have 
been eliminated as a troublesome military state and 
Frederick's life-drama would have ended, but the 
allies who were fighting Prussia had separate in- 
terests and lacked both a unified command and a 
common program to govern their actions. The 
forces opposing Frederick were not co-ordinated, 
and they were fighting for their national interests 
and not with the single and concentrated determi- 
nation to remove the Hohenzollern menace from 
Europe. Even when their forces were combined 
against Frederick, Russia and Austria remained 
separate armies, jealous and suspicious of each 
other and with believedly divergent interests. If 
there had been a unity of command, with a real 
Generalissimo, the arrogant Prussian King would 
have been overthrown in the early days of the war. 
If the conflict had dragged out to August, 1759, a 


single guiding military mind, overruling national- 
istic jealousy and distrust, could, after Kunersdorf, 
have absolutely subjugated the Prussians and en- 
tered Berlin, and Frederick would have died in dis- 
grace by his own hands, instead of coming down to 
us through history surnamed "the Great." 

If the Prussian King had been absolutely 
crushed after Kunersdorf, the house of Hohen- 
zollern would have been stripped of its assumption 
of glory, and would probably have perished with 
him, for dynasties grow great, powerful and arro- 
gant through military victories, and are swept into 
oblivion by ignominious defeats on the field of 
battle. If the Russian and Austrian Conmianders 
had performed their duty or even used ordinary 
common sense after the battle of August 12th, 
1759, the world would have been saved from the 
curse of Hohenzollernism. Napoleon would not 
have received the encouragement — gained from an 
exhaustive study of the life and methods of Fred- 
erick — which goaded him forward in his lawless 
quest for military power and the subjugation 
through force and Machiavellism of all other Euro- 
pean peoples. Had Frederick been crushed before 
he became "the Great," there would probably have 
been no Napoleon and no Wilhelm II, and no great 
World War in this generation at the cost of mil- 
lions of men and years of progress. 

Soltykoff and Laudon saved the Prussian king- 
dom by not following up their splendid and over- 
whelming victory at Kunersdorf. Daun's inactiv- 
ity at a critical period, and Hadik's failure to move 
on Berlin as Frederick firmly believed he would, 
resulted in the war's being continued beyond what 


should have been the closing campaign in the mili- 
tary season of 1759, if even a semblance of intelli- 
gence had been displayed by the commands oppos- 
ing Frederick. 

The Prussian Kaiser waited after Kunersdorf 
for the blow to fall. He believed that he was be- 
tween the forces of Soltykoff and Hadik, and that 
no matter what he did the remnant of his army 
would be annihilated or captured. His Secretary 
of State wrote, "Only a miracle can save us," and 
they were saved, not by divine intervention, but by 
assinine stupidity on the part of their opponents. 
As Frederick planned to end his life, he wrote to 
Finckenstein, "All my troops have done wonders." 
In a few days when Frederick saw that the allies 
were not taking advantage of their victory, and 
were apparently indifferent to his plight, his hopes 
returned. He collected and reorganized his forces 
and found himself commander of an army of 20,000 
men. Even though it was small and had recently 
suffered a most disastrous defeat (due to his bad 
generalship), his courage revived, he forgot about 
his poison and contemplated death, and determined 
to take one more shot at fate. To Finckenstein he 
wrote in regard to his recent "reverse": "The vic- 
tory was ours, when suddenly my wretched infantry 
lost courage. The silly fear of being carried off to 
Siberia turned their heads and there was no stop- 
ping them." With death and the great unknown 
staring him in the face, Frederick had for once 
been truthful and admitted that "My troops have 
done wonders." But when he decided to live and 
fight again, he promptly threw all the blame for 


the defeat at Kunersdorf upon the shoulders of his 
gallant but badly led soldiery. 

Eight days after Kunersdorf, Frederick had 
over 30,000 men, but it is significant that in all his 
communications he persistently harped on their 
poor fighting ability. He "feared them more than 
the enemy," and they "were not to be compared 
with the worst troops of former years." 

Frederick hoped for peace, and in his dilemma 
wrote, "I count on the firmness and honesty of Pitt 
(the British Minister) and it is on him alone that 
we can at this juncture base some hope." The 
Prussian Kaiser was treacherous and false to 
Britain, as he ever was alike to friend and foe, 
but whenever he landed in a tight place, he counted 
on the honor and honesty of Britain to pull him out, 
or at least protect him from "the revengeful and 
avaricious passions" of his Continental enemies. 

After Kunersdorf, the victorious Russian army 
calmly marched home, leaving Frederick overjoyed. 
Daun, brilliant in defense, lost his renown and 
popularity in Austria by his refusal or inability to 
assume the offensive. A wag sent him a nightcap, 
and his wife went into retirement to avoid insults 
heaped upon the house when she appeared in 
public. When the defeated Frederick found that 
his enemies were divided and apparently impotent, 
his arrogance returned, and when Pitt worked for 
peace, this crafty Hohenzollern, feeling that his 
enemies were war-weary and anxious to stop all 
fighting, demanded that "compensation for Prussia 
should be the basis of negotiations for peace." 

In the fall of 1759, Frederick was ill with gout 
and a fever. "I make them carrv me like the relics 


of a saint," he wrote, but his spirits had returned 
and he inundated Berlin with optimistic bulletins 
covering "Peace Offensives" and false military ac- 
tivities. He journeyed to Saxony, united his forces 
with the army of Prince Henry, and took com- 
mand of the army that was opposing or rather 
watching Daun. The Austrian Field Marshal, 
knowing full well the temper and impetuosity of 
Frederick, retired, and the Prussian King did what 
Daun — the Austrian Fabius — fully anticipated, 
he despatched Finck to work around his flank and 
make Daun's withdrawal a precipitous retreat. 
Daun led the Prussians into a trap, and Finck's 
command, stated as 12,000 to 15,000 men, with 70 
guns entangled in the hills south of Dresden, be- 
lieving themselves to be surrounded by an army of 
50,000 men, laid down their arms and surrendered 
to Daun at Maxen on November 21st. 

Rumors now spread fast that the Prussians had 
turned cowards, that the Prussian cause, the Prus- 
sian army and the Prussian King were all falling 
together. Frederick staggered under the crushing 
blow, but kept the remnant of his army in the field 
until he was positive that the Austrians would not 
follow up their victory. The Prussian Kaiser re- 
tired from the field at the end of December, 1759, 
a discouraged, humiliated, and, to use his own 
words, a broken man. During the year, Prussian 
arms had met with severe reverses in Poland, Fred- 
erick had been overwhelmingly defeated at Kuners- 
dorf, and a Prussian army had surrendered to the 
Austrians at Maxen. It was a year in which the 
Prussians, operating to the south and east and 
against Austria and Russia, did not gain a single 


victory in a pitched battle. As Frederick and his 
army retired into winter quarters, they had no 
memories of mihtary triumph to cheer them as a 
result of the year's campaign, with the exception 
of Prince Ferdinand's brilliant victory over the 
French at Minden, August 1st, which was made 
possible by the gallantry and steadiness of British 
troops. Frederick lived in hopes that the Tartars 
might rise against Russia and the Turks against 
Austria, and he did all he could to encourage them 
to do so. Denmark, he believed, would join him 
and he felt sure that France and Russia would 
desert the coalition against him. 


IN 1760, the campaign opened on Prussian soil. 
Fouque, with a Prussian force of 11,000 to 
13,000 men, was defeated near Landshut on 
June 23rd, by Laudon, with an army of about 
30,000 men; only about 1,500 Prussian cavalry 
escaped, and Silesia lay practically defenceless be- 
fore the Austrians. Again Frederick was in 
despair, and his letters during the summer of 1760 
are most pessimistic and hopeless. He wrote that 
"it was only a question of time before he would 
be thrown into the abyss, and a few weeks' time 
before the end, or a few more defeats, meant but 
little." He failed to take Dresden, and after wast- 
ing much time before the city marched into Silesia. 
At Liegnitz he outwitted his opponents and gained 
a victory over Laudon, who lost 10,000 men and 
82 guns. Daun, with an army larger than Fred- 
erick's, did not attack, and the victorious Prussians, 
greatly outnumbered by their foes and with a large 
Austrian army on one side and a Russian army on 
the other, were permitted to retreat with glory. 

On August 11th, Frederick was practically sur- 
rounded, and things looked so desperate that im- 
portant documents were burned. It was only by 
night movements and by an unexpected attack on 
Laudon's columns (August 15th), that had been 
despatched to complete the encirclement of the 
Prussians, that Frederick escaped the trap. But 
the danger was not over and Frederick resorted to 
a ruse to deceive Czernicheff, the Russian com- 


mander, and get him out of the way. The Prus- 
sian King gave to a peasant a despatch addressed 
to Prince Henry, which read, "Austrians totally 
defeated to-day; now for the Russians. Do what 
we agreed upon." The peasant was to take care 
to be captured by the Russians and only give up the 
paper to save his life. The plan worked as Fred- 
erick had anticipated, the despatch duly reached 
Czernicheff's hands and he immediately evacuated 
what he believed to be a dangerous neighborhood. 

In October, 1757, Berlin had been raided by 
Austrian light cavalry under Hadik, who had ex- 
acted an indemnity of 200,000 thalers from the city 
and made off by forced marches; but on October 
9th, 1760, Berlin fell into the hands of Russian 
Cossacks and portions of the Imperial and Austrian 
armies who occupied it for several days and carried 
away with them a ransom of two million thalers. 

Frederick, at the end of October, wrote, "The 
close of my days is poisoned and the evening of my 
life is as hideous as its morning. I will not endure 
the moment that must force me to make a dis- 
honorable peace. No persuasion and no eloquence 
will be strong enough to make me sign my shame. 
I will bury mj^self under the ruins of my father- 
land, or if this consolation seems too sweet to the 
misfortune that persistently pursues me, I will my- 
self put an end to all my woes. . . . After having 
sacrificed my youth to my father and my mature 
years to my fatherland, I think that I have ac- 
quired the right to dispose of my old age as I 
please. ... I will therefore finish this campaign, 
resolved to hazard all and to attempt the most 


desperate measure to conquer or to find a glorious 

On November 3rd, Frederick did resort to des- 
perate measures, and with 44,000 men attacked 
Daun who had 50,000 to 60,000 men and much 
heavy artillery, in a wonderfully strong position 
at Torgau in Saxony. The victory seemed to rest 
with the Austrians; Daun left the field to have a 
wound dressed and send a cheering despatch to 
Vienna, but as daylight waned the Prussians made 
a last desperate attack, carried the heights, and the 
Austrians were compelled to retire. Frederick had 
won a brilliant victory but so expensive in men that 
he forbade the number of casualties to be an- 
nounced. Historians say that Torgau was the 
bloodiest battle of the war, and it is estimated that 
the Austrians lost 12,000 men, or 22 per cent, of 
their forces, and the Prussians 14,000 or 32 per 
cent, of their combatants. 

Frederick made a grave mistake in launching his 
grenadiers against a strongly entrenched and thor- 
oughly intact enemy with 400 guns in position to 
sweep the approach. Of 6,000 men it is said that 
5,400 were swept away by grape and case, and 
Prussian batteries hurrying up to support the 
grenadiers were destroyed before they had time to 
load. Torgau, which proved to be Frederick's last 
great battle, left both the Prussians and the Aus- 
trians practically paralyzed by the bloodj^ struggle, 
and the year 1760 ended without a further effort 
being made on either side. 

In 1761, Frederick adopted a defensive policy, 
and being outnumbered two to one by the Russians 
and Austrians in Silesia, he '*dug in" at Schweid- 


nitz (Bunzelwitz) and "defied" the allies either to 
destroy hini where he stood, or make lasting con- 
quests while his army of over 50,000 men remained 
iindestroyed. All the belligerent nations engaged 
in this Continental war were now practically ex- 
hausted by the struggle, and none seemed able to 
face or had confidence enough to risk a decision on 
the field. During the latter part of September, 
Frederick left his camp with a small force and 
moved south; Laudon, some historians tell us, 
promptly took advantage of the Prussian King's 
absence and took the supposedly impregnable 
Schweidnitz by assault (October 1st), greatly to 
Frederick's mortification. Other records, however, 
suggest that Laudon's attempt to surprise Schweid- 
nitz failed. The Russians met with military suc- 
cesses north, and at the close of the monotonous and 
dreary campaign of 1761 the enemies of Frederick 
wintered on Prussian soil. 

Frederick was naturally despondent during the 
winter of 1761-62 and declared that fortune alone 
could save him. "He likened himself to a fiddler 
from whose instrument men tore away the strings 
one by one until all were gone, and still demanded 
music." Once more he declared that "philosophy 
alone" (of which, notwithstanding all his preten* 
sions, he knew nothing) "could console him in his 
pilgrimage through this hell called the world." "I 
save myself," he wrote, "by viewing the world as 
though from a distant planet. Then everything 
seems infinitely small, and I pity my enemies for 
giving themselves so much trouble about such a 
trifle." Biographers of Frederick have branded 
this sort of drivelling as "philosophy." It is noth- 


ing but mere HohenzoUern fatalism. What they 
have the power to take and the power to hold is of 
vital importance to them, and they would sacrifice 
everybodj^ and everything — except themselves and 
their own — to obtain possession of it. What they 
know they cannot take, or what they are convinced 
they cannot hold — or barter to advantage in peace 
negotiations — they do not want, and it is unim- 
portant to them. What they think that their ene- 
mies cannot take or cannot hold, they also believe 
should be viewed as unimportant by them. 

Frederick grabbed Silesia and fought as a brig- 
and among the nations for twenty months (IT^O- 
42) to hold it against its rightful owners. In 
1744-45, he struggled for sixteen and a half months 
to acquire more territory and to defend his Silesian 
theft, and in 1756 he plunged the Continent of 
Europe into a bloody war of seven years' duration, 
in a frenzied endeavor to be the acknowledged lead- 
ing European military power, to make Silesia 
secure and Prussian for all time, humiliate . the 
Hapsburgs, make Prussia the leading Germanic 
and Central European Power, and acquire all the 
territory that he could lay his hands on by force 
during the war, or by threats during the ensuing 
peace negotiations. 

Frederick's life work was the grabbing of Silesia 
which he accomplished by mihtary preparedness. 
Machiavellian diplomacy and ruthless might in an 
incredibly short space of time, and then the strug- 
ghng to hold it against an outraged world, which 
occupied most of his life and a large part of his 
time, from 1740 to 1763. This brigand, Frederick, 
should have been treated as an outlaw among civi- 


lized nations, but he became known as "The Great" 
through his ultimate success in unscrupulous bur- 
glary. After instigating and prosecuting three 
diabolical wars, and after twenty-three years of 
time, he was permitted to retain the stolen property 
originally acquired by ruthless might. 


IN the winter of 1761-62, Frederick drilled and 
bolstered up his steadily dwindHng army. 
Saxony was once more combed for wealth and, 
as a subject state, suffered by devastation from his 
unscrupulous avarice. Frederick again worked 
hard to bring the Tartars and Turks into the Euro- 
pean struggle. Britain demanded that he make 
peace, but Frederick persistently refused to make 
any concessions, and when his emissaries ventured 
to suggest some compromise, he brutally accused 
them of having been bribed by his allies or his foes. 
He wanted peace above everything else in the 
world, but not one square inch of Prussian territory 
would he give up, and Silesia he considered as part 
of Prussia. He hoped to keep Saxony, too, but 
this was the territory that he expected to use in his 
bargaining for peace. Later, he felt that he would 
rather give up some of the outlying parts of Prussia 
(East Prussia was then in the hands of the Rus- 
sians) if by so doing he could hold Saxony, which 
he greatly coveted. 

In January, 1762, Britain refused to support the 
obstinate, grasping and ever unscrupulous Fred- 
erick, and she made peace with France ; but at this 
time the Czarina Elizabeth of Russia died, and her 
successor, Peter III, brought joy to the weary 
Frederick's heart by allying the Russian Empire 
with Prussia. At last the condition for which 
Frederick had waited and hoped had matured, and 
the alliance of Russia with Austria was broken. 


Muscovite perfidy to Maria Theresa saved Fred- 
erick in the Seven Year War and gave the crushed 
mihtaristic kingdom of Prussia not only hope in 
black despair, but a new lease of life. The collapse 
of Russia as a belligerent enemy of Prussia and 
an ally of other European states who were opposed 
to the aggressive Hohenzollerns and their avari- 
cious unscrupulousness, made the ultimate victory 
of Prussia possible. 

The House of Romanoff claims descent from a 
Lithuanian Prince of the fourth century, but it is 
certain that the family did not make its appearance 
in Russia till the fourteenth century, when Andrei 
Kobyla emigrated from Prussia to Moscow (1341) 
and entered the service of the then Grand Duke, 
Simeon the Fierce. Six generations later a daugh- 
ter of the House of Kobyla, Anastasia Romanovna, 
by name, became Czarina by her marriage to Ivan 
the Terrible, who reigned from 1533 to 1584, and 
a son, Nikita Romanovitch Jurief married the 
Princess Eudoxia of Eusdal- Vladimir. Nikita was 
one of the regents during the minority of Feodor I, 
a feeble Prince who died childless in 1598, the last 
reigning monarch of the House of Rurik which had 
ruled in Russia from the year 862. Revolution and 
warfare followed, and on February 21st, 1613, Mi- 
chael Feodorovitch Romanoff, the grandson of 
Nikita, and a descendant of the royal House of 
Rurik (through his grandmother), was proclaimed 

In 1741, Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of Peter 
the Great (who died 1725), mounted the throne of 
Russia and ruled till January, 1762. She was suc- 
ceeded by Peter, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, the 


son of her sister. At the time of Ehzabeth's death, 
Russia had acquired East Prussia and part of 
Pomerania, but Peter, the young Holsteiner who 
had come under the influence of the scheming 
Frederick, flung away all the fruits of the great 
war which had been purchased at Gross-Jagers- 
dorf, Zorndorf, Kay, Kunersdorf and Colberg with 
torrents of Russian blood and vast sums of money, 
and before February dawned, Frederick knew that 
the Russia which he had feared had not only with- 
drawn from the war but would resign their con- 
quests without indemnity, and undertake to ar- 
range peace between Prussia and Sweden. 

When the joyful news of the death of the 
Czarina Elizabeth reached Frederick he was near 
the end of his rope. The Prussian army had dwin- 
dled to 60,000 men ; the Prussian King had lost all 
hope of military victory and was only concerned 
with the struggle of obtaining the greatest salvage 
possible from the wreck of his kingdom. In this 
struggle he put his hopes in Machiavellian diplo- 
macy rather than in his army. Prussia was 
impoverished and war-weary, but so were his oppo- 
nents, and Frederick did all in his power to create 
discord among his foes and a hatred for further 

Peter III of Russia acted like a Prusso-German 
prince in his apparent desire to please Frederick 
of Prussia. On March 16th, 1762, an armistice 
was signed between Prussia and Russia, known as 
the Truce of Stargard, and on May 5th, by the 
terms of the Treaty of St. Petersburg, Russ^ia 
officially restored her conquests, both parties re- 
nounced all hostile alliances and Russia placed a 


contingent of 18,000 men at Frederick's disposal 
and agreed to stand by while Turks and Tartars 
attacked the Austrian dominions. The Peace of 
Hapsburg (May 22nd) followed between Prussia 
and Sweden, and by status quo ante helium, re- 
established the conditions of 1720. 

Thus, through the perfidy and treachery of 
Russia, the European coalition failed in securing 
a final triumph over the unprincipled HohenzoUern 
dynasty. When the Prussian fortunes were at 
low ebb, Peter III mounted the throne of Russia, 
deserted the cause of those nations who, with re- 
spect for law, had banded themselves together to 
defeat an unscrupulous brigand Prince, and even 
went so far as to give armed support to the steadily 
failing cause of the Hohenzollerns, just as the 
Bolsheviki to-day, betraying the interests of the 
Russian people, and with leaders bought by Ger- 
man gold, are giving support to the greatest and 
most hellish despotism that the world has ever 

The alliance between Russia and Prussia was 
broken off July 9th by the deposition of Peter III, 
who was foully murdered a few days later. The 
revolution was headed by his scheming and ambi- 
tious German wife, Sophia Augusta, a Princess of 
Anhalt-Zerbet. Although the Russian troops were 
recalled, their presence upon the field, even though 
they were inactive, contributed to Frederick's initial 
military success of 1762. When the Russian com- 
mander received orders to move his troops from 
Silesia back to Russia, his command was manoeuv- 
ering with the Prussian force to attack an Aus- 
trian army under Daun. Frederick bribed the 


Russian General to keep his order secret for a few 
days, and without actually taking part in the com- 
ing battle, to remain as a spectator, so that the 
Austrians would not only be psychologically af- 
fected by the presence of the Russian army against 
them, but would work out their strategy on the 
assumption that the Russian forces were belliger- 
ents in reserve. 

On July 21st, the Prussians surprised Daun's 
right wing and gained a clever victory at Burkers- 
dorf (Reichenbach). At a sacrifice of about 2,000 
men, Frederick reduced the Austrian forces by 
some 9,000 men, and the retreat of the Austrians 
permitted him to once more take the aggressive and 
seek to recover Schweidnitz. Daun attempted to 
avenge Burkersdorf by a counter-surprise, but it 
failed, and in October, 1762, Schweidnitz fell. 

France had been bled white in Colonial wars and 
she was far too weary and impoverished from the 
strain of Colonial disasters to make further efforts 
in the Continental war. The great war dragged 
through 1762 and no campaign or battle was at- 
tempted. The Turks and Tartars again disap- 
pointed Frederick, and fighting came to a close 
when Prince Henry won the victory of Freiberg, 
October 29th, 1762, over the Austrians and Im- 
perial forces, and Prince Ferdinand drove the 
French back over the Rhine. 

Maria Theresa at last felt the hopelessness of 
regaining Silesia by continuing the war, so she 
decided not to prolong a struggle which could only 
result in the further and useless spilling of blood 
and add to the misery and poverty of mankind. An 
armistice was agreed upon by all the belligerents; 


peace was concluded at Paris, but the final terms of 
the treaty were generally adjusted on a status quo 
ante basis and signed at Hubertusberg — n castle 
of the Saxon King — February 15th, 1763, after 
seven weeks of earnest and strenuous negotiations. 

This treaty ( 1 ) ratified the peace of Breslau and 
BerUn and that of Dresden, (2) Prussia promised 
her vote for the Archduke Joseph, the son of Maria 
Theresa, at the election for the Emperor, (3) Sax- 
ony was restored to the status quo, 

Reddaway tells us that during the peace negotia- 
tions "Frederick showed himself pliant in matters 
of etiquette, and unbending where any practical 
advantage was at stake. He was willing to gratify 
Hapsburg pride by sending his envoy more than 
half way to meet the envoy of the Queen, by allow- 
ing her name to precede his in the documents, and 
by promising to further the election of her son 
Joseph as Emperor. But he insisted on the restor- 
ation of Glatz by the Austrians and on the payment 
by the Saxons of his grinding taxes up to the very 
eve of peace." 

Frederick posed and acted as a victor, and occa- 
sionally even as a conqueror. He was at times 
superciliously polite, and at other times sardonic, 
but at all times he was an avaricious, grasping 
Hohenzollern. Prussia at the end of the Seven 
Year War, and after seven campaigns and an in- 
calculable loss of blood and treasure, had main- 
tained all her possessions and made good by force 
and treacherous diplomacy her claims to rank with 
the Great Powers of Europe. 


AFTER the Great War, Frederick treated his 
subjects in typical HohenzoUern fashion. 
On the eve of an important conflict, when 
conditions were desperate, the Prussian King had 
been democratic and even fraternized with his 
troops and eulogized his army. When the Seven 
Year War ended, Frederick wounded the pride and 
spirit of his men by harsh criticism, injustice, and, 
at times, bitter humiliation. He permitted free 
battahons to disperse without reward or thanks. 
When Col. Guichard appealed to him to repay 
officers at least part of the money which they had 
expended from their own pockets in enlisting men, 
Frederick retorted, "Thy officers have stolen like 
ravens, they shall not get a farthing from me." 
During the stress of the campaign Frederick had 
given commissions to students and competent, well- 
educated young men of the citizen or bourgeois 
class. "In the hour of triumph," writes Reddaway, 
"they were ruthlessly sacrificed to Frederick's prin- 
ciple that his officers must belong to the caste of 
nobles. Prussians who had served him in his ex- 
tremity must submit to be cashiered, while foreign- 
ers of rank were enlisted to atone for the dearth 
of natives whose pedigrees satisfied his require- 

On the eve of Leuthen, Frederick threw aside 
his high and mighty manner, and posing as the 
loving father of his people, struggled to fill the 
hearts of the common soldiery, — discouraged by 


the disasters sustained by the Prussian Silesian 
army, — with patriotic devotion, confidence and 
courage. He bandied rough pleasantries with his 
grenadiers; he told the various regiments of their 
importance in the coming fight, and flattered the 
vanity of the none too loyal Pomeranians by de- 
claring that without them he would not dare to give 
battle. Yet Frederick loathed common soldiers and 
officers of the so-called lower social castes as much 
as he did civiHans. Only Prussian Junker officers 
were entitled, because of their "noble" birth, to 
command men. Their lives had some importance 
but Frederick never hesitated to sacrifice the lives 
of his soldiery, and many of his victories were 
gained by mass attacks and sheer weight accom- 
panied by wholesale slaughter. "Dogs, would ye 
live forever?" he shrieked at his men in the crisis 
of one battle. In Frederick's eyes, a common sol- 
dier was a dog, useful, but still a dog; ordinary 
civilians, i.e., poor men or men of common breeding, 
were not even dogs in the eyes of the Prussian King 
— he treated them contemptuously and with dis- 
gust, as "mere vermin." Only nobles were men, 
and his opinion of men was very low. His ideas of 
organization and mihtary discipline were very 
crude. In his military provinces he would place 
high, experienced officers under the supervision of 
an officer of lower rank who would still retain a 
specific command. To the sentry who did not rec- 
ognize the King and had the effrontery to challenge 
him, he indignantly howled, "Dog, hold thy peace." 
He was above all law and army rules, and he held 
in absolute contempt the humble Prussian soldier 
whose devotion to the Hohenzollern dynasty has 


caused the name of Frederick to come down to pos- 
terity as "The Great." 

No general of great mihtary reputation ever lived 
who made more inexcusable mistakes in strategy, 
or sacrificed his men more heartlesslv in his wild 
gambles with fate, or lost such a high percentage of 
pitched battles and so many of his men in relation 
to his enemy's percentages of loss. 

Napoleon said "Nothing is so important in war 
as an individual command." Napoleon not only 
benefited greatly, but his triumphs were made pos- 
sible by the lack of cohesion and military unity on 
the part of his foes. Frederick benefited in the 
same way because his foes were not united under 
one supreme military command, because their inter- 
ests were not uniform, because they were suspicious 
of each other and lacked the incentive to follow up 
their triumphs and advantages, pursue the war 
aggressively and annihilate Prussian militarism. 

Frederick said that he was Prussia and if any- 
thing happened to him Prussia was doomed. Fred- 
erick's persistence and Machiavellian trickery kept 
Prussia in The Great War for seven years, when 
aggressive, serious action with a unity of command 
and the proper use of the resources of flie countries 
allied together against him, could have put an end 
to his ambitions and annihilated the Prussian mili- 
tary menace in one full season's campaign, or prior 
to December, 1757. 

Instead of fighting aggressively and intelligent^, 
with unity and purpose, Austria, Russia, Sweden, 
France and the German Imperialists permitted the 
war to drag on so that peace was not made until 
February, 1763, and then the war- weary belliger- 


ents agreed, after seven campaigns and an incal- 
culable loss of blood and wealth, to return to the 
conditions that existed before the outbreak of the 
war, in reaUty permitting Prussia to emerge from 
the conflict the virtual victor. 

Frederick maintained that "All wars should be 
short and rapid." This is a fundamental Hohen- 
zollern policy. The Prussian triumph of 1864 over 
Denmark, 1866 over Austria, and 1870 over 
France, were all obtained on this theory of a quick 
and heavy, well-prepared thrust upon an enemy 
relatively weaker because of unpreparedness and 
handicapped by slower movements. Wilhelm II 
and his General Staff almost succeeded in taking 
Paris by the same cyclonic tactics in 1914, and 
probably would have succeeded, if they had not 
become recklessly over-confident, and this notwith- 
standing the heroic bravery of the Belgians, the 
courage and fighting power of the wonderful little 
army of Britain, and the indomitable spirit of the 
numerically overwhelmed but glorious French 

While Frederick gained the reputation of being 
a great soldier, the exploits of his brother. Prince 
Henry, are scarcely known, yet Henry was con- 
spicuous in the first overwhelming Prussian 
triumph at Rossbach (November, 1757) and gained 
the last great victory of the war at Freiberg ( Octo- 
ber, 1762). Prince Henry and his brother Ferdi- 
nand were often estranged from Frederick because 
of his selfish egoism, inhumanity, heartlessness and 
bitter words, but Frederick admitted that Henrv 
was a great soldier and a great leader of men. 
"There is but one of us," he once remarked in con- 


versation with his brother* "who has not made a 
mistake in war and I am not that one." But while 
Frederick acknowledged Henry's generalship, he 
persistently rejected his counsel and this contrib- 
uted, at times, to the strained relations existing 
between them. 

Frederick was a gambler with fate, a plunger 
who played for big stakes, accepted long odds and 
took great chances. Henry was a strategist, who 
considered his forces and those of his enemy and 
played to win the greatest ultimate benefit with the 
least possible loss. Frederick ridiculed his brother's 
caution and desire to conserve his soldiery. He 
affirmed that such a policy in military affairs would 
never result in greatness, and it was his ambition 
to be great, and to go down in history as the great- 
est of the Hohenzollerns. "If you engage in small 
affairs," he remarked to his brother, "you will 
always remain mediocre, but if you engage in ten 
great undertakings and are lucky in no more than 
two, you will make your name immortal." 

Frederick's military career was in harmony with 
this principle. His only battle in 1756 was inde- 
cisive; in 1757 he won at Prague, but he could not 
take the city nor reap the fruits of his victory, and 
he was overwhelmingly defeated at Kolin. His 
forces suffered disaster at Gross-Jagersdorf and 
Breslau, but he won a spectacular victory at Ross- 
bach and closed the 1757 campaign with a splendid 
victory at Leuthen. 

In 1758, after his forces suffered a reverse at 
Domstadtl, he won a doubtful victory at Zorndorf, 
for he failed to drive from the field the Russians, 
who also claimed the victory, and he suffered an 


overwhelming defeat at Hochkirch. In 1759 his 
forces were defeated by the Russians at Kay; the 
Prussian army under his command sustained a 
great disaster at the hands of the Russians and Aus- 
trians at Kunersdorf, and his arms met with a 
humiliating reverse at Maxen. 

In 1760, after a Prussian defeat at Landshut, 
Frederick won by strategy at Liegnitz, but had to 
flee with his army from the field of victory; at 
Torgau he gambled once more and won. In 1761, 
the Prussians were defeated by the Austrians at 
Schweidnitz and by the Russians at Colberg, and 
in the campaigns of this year Frederick had no vic- 
tory to his credit. 

In 1762, after Russia and Sweden deserted Aus- 
tria and the coalition of the powers against him, 
Frederick, by a supreme and final effort, outgamed 
his war-weary opponents and won his last battle 
over the Austrians at Burkersdorf. This victory, 
together with those of his two brothers. Prince 
Henry and Prince Ferdinand, over the Imperial- 
ists and exhausted French in the West, brought the 
Seven Year War to a close. 

Against the Russians, Frederick did not win a 
really decisive pitched battle. Zorndorf is conceded 
to be a Prussian victory, but the Prussian losses 
exceeded those of the Russians, and the "defeated" 
Russians claimed the victory, hung around the scene 
of their "triumph," and later leisurely marched 
away without any Prussian interference. Against 
the Austrians Frederick's armies lost the decision in 
succession at Domstadtl, Hochkirch, Kunersdorf, 
Maxen and Landshut; he failed in his attempt to 
take Dresden, and after a victory over a small part 


of the Austrian force under Laudon which had been 
sent to complete the hostile ring around him at 
Liegnitz, he barely escaped annihilation. By a 
quick movement and splendid strategy he overcame 
Laudon in a surprise attack, and by a rapid retreat 
and the spreading of lies among his enemies he was 
enabled to escape without being attacked. 

It has often been said that Frederick alone kept 
Prussia together during the Seven Year War, and 
to him alone is due the credit for the ultimate vic- 
tory. Such a statement would be true of any abso- 
lute despot. Frederick in Prussia was supreme; 
he was absolute in every department of state and 
government. But it has also been generally said 
that Prussian triumph — survival would be a better 
word — was due to Frederick's courage and unwav- 
ering steadfastness of purpose ; but this is not true. 
Like all other Hohenzollerns, Frederick did not 
possess courage. A reckless, foolhardy gambler, 
ultimately favored by fortune, does not express 
courage, neither does the leader, who, thinking all is 
lost, flees from the field of battle as Frederick did 
at Mollwitz, or who in despair seeks death at the 
enemies' hands as Frederick did at Kunersdorf . 

Frederick easily lost heart and was often in 
despair. He frequently longed to quit the war and 
would have done so on many occasions if he could 
have obtained peace terms that were not drastically 
punitive. With every reverse, he longed to end the 
combat. After Kolin and Gross-Jagersdorf, in the 
summer of 1757, Frederick's courage was at such 
low ebb that he yearned and clamored for peace. 
After Hochkirch (October, 1758) he was in des- 
pair, and when defeated at Kunersdorf (August, 


1759) he absolutely collapsed and would have com- 
mitted suicide if his enemies had not been so stupid 
in failing to follow up their victory. 

Frederick's fluctuations of spirit between a 
gambler's hope and gloomy despair, and between 
intolerant egoism in victory, and desperation, col- 
lapse and cowardice in defeat, are typical of the 
Hohenzollerns who have always been bloody, arro- 
gant bullies and tyrants when they could terrorize, 
and whining cowards when fate seemed against 

Frederick William I, the father of Frederick, 
Uterally ruled Prussia with a cowhide, and when 
tired of beating his wife and children, and kicking 
and throwing his Ministers from his presence, used 
to sally forth, thong in hand, to promiscuously lash 
and beat his subjects. Frederick William's brutish- 
ness killed him; but his son declared that he died 
"bored to death with governing a nation of slaves." 
Like all bullies, Frederick William was at heart an 
arrant coward, and in this respect his son, Freder- 
ick the Great, and the present incumbent of the 
Prussian throne, and his son, the Crown Prince, 
show themselves true Hohenzollerns. Napoleon 
was materially assisted in his spectacular rise to 
power by the cowardice of a Hohenzollern — Fred- 
erick William III and his Prussian Junkers and 
army officers; and it required a Bismarck to tear 
up a Hohenzollern abdication and with a blood and 
iron policy restore courage and prestige to a family 
notoriously shaky when confronted by powerful 
opposition, and conspicuous for their overbearing 
conceit and ruthless, brutal crueltv when thev have 


an opportunity to exercise unrestrained their pecu- 
liar family characteristics. 

Frederick became "The Great" not because of 
courage but from the sheer stupidity of foes who 
did not know how to reap the results of victories. 
Napoleon, likewise, a half century later was per- 
mitted to terrorize Europe because of opponents 
who refused to act in concert with unity of com- 
mand, and whose forces were handled without mili- 
tary judgment. 

At no time did Frederick express real grit, i.e., 
unwavering, determined and hopeful courage in the 
deepest adversity. On no occasion in his life did 
he exhibit the moral force, such as was expressed by 
Luther (1483-1546), the South German, when he 
said, "I am resolved to enter Worms although as 
many devils should set at me as there are tiles on 
the housetops. Unless I be convinced by Scripture 
and reason, I neither can nor dare detract anything, 
for my conscience is a captive to God's word, and it 
is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. 
Here I take my stand. I can do no otherwise, so 
help me God." 

Frederick was a Machiavellian opportunist, and 
his policy was the very antithesis of that demanded 
by moral courage which required "the doing of 
right because right is right in scorn of conse- 
quence." Frederick gambled with Fate for results, 
and the means employed were never considered 
from a moral standpoint. To the Hohenzollerns, 
the end has always justified the means, necessity 
knows no law, the King can do no wrong, and the 
dynasty is above all law. 


FREDERICK'S army "reforms," put into 
effect after the Great War, were void of 
justice and uniformity, but expressed rather 
the capricious whims of an absolute dictator. The 
pension of officers depended not upon length of 
service, rank and record, but upon his personal 
favor. The military inspectors, which he appointed 
in each province, were whimsically elected without 
regard to seniority or special military fitness. Fred- 
erick's power was absolute and despotic, and in 
times of peace he made hght of all military dis- 
content. He persistently played favorites, not only 
in regard to caste and individuals, but also prov- 
inces, cities and districts. The State Treasury re- 
imbursed Berlin in full for the sums that it had been 
required to pay to the foe as ransom, but Halle 
received only one-sixth of the amount which it had 
been compelled to pay, and in most cases burghers 
were left to bear the entire loss themselves. 

When Prussia was staggering to recuperate from 
a war that had almost impoverished the kingdom, 
Frederick, three months after peace was signed, 
began the construction of a third palace at Potsdam 
and lavished on this ridiculous and absolutelv un- 
warranted superfluity, a sum which probably rep- 
resented more than one-half of all the money which 
he assigned to the restoration of the land, the re- 
building of industry and the making of necessary 
improvements in the kingdom. It has been said 
that Frederick resorted to this extravagance to im- 


press the foreign powers and carry to them the sug- 
gestion that it would be dangerous for them to 
again consider fighting with a foe that could wage 
war for seven years and emerge from such a conflict 
with sufficient money to build luxurious palaces, 
while they staggered beneath overwhelming debts. 
No sooner was the great European war of 1756- 
1763 ended, when Frederick was deeply engrossed 
with not only the work of reconstruction, but also 
the planning for "the next war" and "the future 
struggle." It is significant that in his secret esti- 
mate for the inevitable coming war, he placed the 
annual expense of the campaign at 12,000,000 
thalers, and of this amount Prussia by taxation 
would be required to contribute only 4,750,000 
thalers. Of the remaining required 7,250,000 
thalers, he was determined that Saxony, an inde- 
pendent state, would be again forced to pay tribute, 
and the amount of her share he placed at 5,000,000 
thalers per annum, or more than Prussia would 
supply by taxation. The balance of 2,250,000 
thalers he decided must come from the State Treas- 
ury. Frederick put into effect an elaborate tax- 
system and supervised its collection, so that at the 
close of his reign the total annual revenue of the 
state was well over 20,000,000 thalers, which was 
three times that obtained during the reign of his 
father. The Treasury at his death contained some 
60,000,000 thalers, or enough, according to Fred- 
erick's estimate, to finance any future war. 
Frederick did much to promote agriculture and 
cattle-raising, and he sought to make Prussia self- 
supporting in order to increase the power of the 
kingdom, through independence of all foreign 


lands, in time of war. He encouraged Prussian 
industries, and, whenever necessary to encourage 
domestic production, he prohibited importations of 
food, raw materials or manufactured goods. An 
interesting illustration of the metlicds he employed 
is afforded by the story of Berlin-made porcelain. 
T\Tien the Prussians occupied Dresden they ex- 
torted the secrets of the making of the famous 
Meissen ware from the skilled employees of Augus- 
tus, and a factory for producing the porcelain was 
built at Berlin and importations prohibited. Fred- 
erick resorted to many schemes to widen the market 
at home and to create a market abroad for Berlin 
porcelain, and among other orders he decreed that 
in order "to promote the welfare of Prussia, Jews 
who wished to marry, would be compelled to pur- 
chase a service of porcelain and dispose of it in 
some foreign land." 

The Prussian King did all in his power to prevent 
foreign goods entering Prussia, and to increase the 
sale of Prussian goods abroad. Prussia must be 
self-supporting and independent of every other 
land, but he desired foreign gold for Prussian pro- 
duct. Frederick tried to raise tobacco in Prussia, 
with poor success; he tried to put a stop to coffee 
drinking by making it a state monopoly and impos- 
ing a tax of 250 per cent, upon its value, even 
though he was a devotee himself of the beverage, 
but the only effect of his decree was to encourage 
coffee smuggling. To the Pomeranians who pro- 
tested against the royal coffee decree, Frederick 
replied, "His Majesty's high person was reared in 
youth on beer, therefore, the people can equally 
well be reared on beer, for it is much more whole- 


some than coffee." Frederick irritated his people 
greatly by placing the tax collecting department 
under the supervision of foreigners, as well as by 
his arbitrary schemes for raising revenue. Redda- 
way says, "To his fiscal measure, more than all else, 
was it due that the state which he had exalted drew 
a deep breath of relief when he died." 


AFTER the Peace of Hubertusburg, Freder- 
ick in his innermost heart still felt himself to 
be an Ishmael in Europe. Notwithstanding 
all his protestations of affection for the Hapsburgs, 
he still considered Austria his enem}^ just as 
Prusso-Germany since the war of 1870-71 and their 
forcible acquiring of Alsace-Lorraine — somewhat 
analogous to the Silesia of Austria — have consid- 
ered France their great persistent enemy. Unjust 
and forcible acquisitions of territory have always 
caused the victor-by-force to generate and nurture 
feelings of hatred for the country which has been 
robbed and humiliated. This is probably due to the 
reaction of national conscience; the violated peo- 
ple may grow to forget or at least to overlook and 
stifle the natural impulse for revenge, but the nation 
that has broken the moral law by force, keeps the 
wound open. 

Not only did Frederick continue suspicious of 
Austria, but he had no confidence in France and he 
hated the British who had in reality done far more 
for him than all the other foreign powers combined. 
An instance of Frederick's absurd anger at Britain 
and his childish petulance is afforded by the story 
of his war horse, which he named after the British 
Minister, Lord Bute. When Bute, however, in 
1762, was unable to persuade Frederick to end the 
horrible, ruinous war through negotiations with 
Austria, and refused to renew the British alliance 
with Prussia but entered into a peace treaty with 
France, Frederick in rage demanded that his noble 


charger, Lord Bute, be yoked with a mule and made 
to perform humiliating duties while he himself 
looked on with apparent satisfaction. This is about 
the way that HohenzoUerns have "humiliated" the 
British in the past, and the British have enough of 
that sense of humor, so lacking in the Teuton, to 
feel "deeply mortified" by the insult — to a horse. 

In 1764, Frederick fearing Russia, and Russia 
fearing Austria, and being suspicious of Prussia 
and a hostile combination between the Prussians 
and the Turks, Frederick finally, through tricky 
playing of his cards, convinced the Czarina, Cath- 
erine II of Russia, that an alliance between them 
would be mutually profitable. Frederick had his 
eye on Poland and by his Russian Treaty of April 
11th, 1764, he obtained Russia's guarantee of his 
right to Silesia. After the Prussian alliance with 
Russia, Frederick played politics with Austria. He 
met the young Emperor, Joseph II of Austria, son 
of Maria Theresa (Emperor Francis I was dead) 
in August, 1769, at Neisse and professed to be 
charmed with him, although it is significant that 
Joseph, reporting the interview to his mother, re- 
marked, "The Prussian King talked well but be- 
trayed the knave in every word uttered." Again, in 
Moravia, in September, 1770, Frederick worked 
hard to captivate the Austrian Emperor, Chancel- 
lor Kaunitz and General Laudon. By hypocrisy 
and Machiavellian deceit and wiles, he impressed 
the Austrian trio and won their favor by insincere 
flattery, when in his heart he felt nothing but con- 
tempt for them all. Frederick's unscrupulous guile 
bore fruit in the partition of Poland — one of the 


most outrageous acts in European history. Poland 
had been kept in a state of anarchy for many years 
by Prussia and Russia, and their co-operation to- 
ward this end was set forth in the Prusso-Russian 
Treaty of 1764. The Romanists and Dissidents 
had fought each other in a bloody and desolating 
war since 1768, and on January 15th, 1772, Russia 
and Prussia, and on August oth, 1772, Austria — 
after much hesitation — agreed to and signed the 
shameful treaty of partition. 

Frederick sardonically enjoyed the spectacle of 
the Austrian Queen struggling with her conscience 
and upbraiding the Imperial Chancellor Kaunitz, 
her son and herself. She complained that they 
aimed at once at two incompatible objects "to act 
in the Prussian fashion and at the same time to 
preserve the semblance of honesty." The prospec- 
tive additions to the Imperial domain, she affirmed, 
seemed to her positively odious, since they were 
"acquired at the price of honor, at the price of the 
glory of the monarchy, at the price of the good 
faith and religion, which are our peculiar posses- 
sions." Maria Theresa would not agree to the par- 
tition and spoliation of Poland for many long 
months, and not until she had referred the whole 
matter to the Holy See and satisfied her conscience, 
in a measure, by obtaining the approval of the 
Pope. Galicia and Lodomeria were added to the 
Hapsburg dominions, and in 1777, Bukowina was 
taken from the Turks. Frederick enjoyed im- 
mensely the plight of Maria Theresa as she strug- 
gled between the dictates of her conscience, on the 
one hand, and Imperial power and glory with dy- 
nastic aggrandizement, on the other; and when 


Austria finally signed the Treaty of the first divi- 
sion of Poland, the elated and triumphant Prussian 
King cynically remarked, "The Empress is always 
weeping, but always annexing." 

By the partition of Poland, Prussia was made 
for the first time contiguous with Brandenburg 
and Pomerania. Frederick's share of the spoil 
amounted to over 16,000 square miles, and in 1774 
he filched some two hundred additional villages 
from Poland. When he made his triumphant entry 
into the new Prussian province he declared that it 
was not a territory to be proud of and that all he 
saw was "sand, pines, heath and Jews," but to his 
brother, Prince Henry, he wrote, "It is a very good 
and very profitable acquisition, both for the politi- 
cal situation of the state and for its finances." 
Frederick openly expressed his contempt for the 
natives and spoke of them as "imbeciles with names 
ending in ki," and his administration of Polish af- 
fairs was void of every semblance of justice. 

Frederick continued to keep Prussia as a "nation 
at arms," spend money on fortifications and war 
equipment, and keep an army of 150,000 to 200,000 
men constantly in the field. He looked on while 
Russia and Austria despoiled the Turk in 1774, 
when the American Colonies rebelled and when 
France joined the war in 1778. He had absolutely 
no use for the British, but he was scrupulously care- 
ful to give no offense to either combatant so that 
he could throw in his lot later with the victor with 
hopes of obtaining a share of the spoils. 

An instance of HohenzoUern duplicity is af- 
forded by the story of the "joke" he played on the 
struggling American Colonists. In the first stages 


of the war Frederick's policy was to pursue a "mid- 
dle course," taking sides neither for nor against the 
Americans; but when he learned of Burgoyne's 
surrender he assured Benjamin Franklin that he 
would recognize their independence "when France, 
which is more directly interested in the event of this 
contest, shall have given the example." He also 
instructed his Minister of State, Baron Schulen- 
burg, to permit American agents in Berhn to pur- 
chase arms for Continental troops — stating that 
"the firm of Splittgerber & Co., contractors for the 
manufacture of arms, have received directions to 
deliver such as you may demand." Acting under 
this authority, Arthur Lee, the American Colonial 
Commissioner to Prussia, purchased 800 fusils, 
but when delivered it was found that they were old, 
worn-out weapons which were utterly worthless. 
Lee indignantly demanded that the Splittgerber 
firm be compelled to rectify the fraud, but he was 
informed that he "as a good Republican, ought to 
know that the Prussian King (the most auto- 
cratic and absolute despot of his era) had no power 
to arbitrarily right private breaches of contract." 

Emperor Joseph II of Austria became very 
friendly to Frederick, and the Prussian King 
played with the young man for his own selfish 
benefit. A painting of the Austrian Emperor was 
hung conspicuously on the wall of one of Fred- 
erick's rooms, and an intimate associate of the Prus- 
sian King knowing Frederick's hatred and fear of 
Austria, asked why he should permit the picture of 
an enemy to be so conspicuously near him. Fred- 
erick replied, "I desire to keep that young gentle- 
man in my eye." 


In 1777, the Elector, Maximilian Joseph of Ba- 
varia, died and his domain passed by right to the 
aged and childless Elector Palatine. Joseph II of 
Austria, seeking to emulate Frederick and desiring 
to consolidate the Hapsburg lands, set up a "Prus-^ 
sian" type of claim to part of Eastern Bavaria, 
and, in January, 1778, half frightened and half 
bribed the new Elector into acquiescence while his 
heir, Charles, Duke of Zweibriicken, vigorously 
protested. Austrian troops promptly occupied (in 
true Prussian fashion) the ceded territory. Joseph 
of the House of Hapsburg had not sat at the feet 
of Frederick of the House of Hohenzollern for 
nothing ; he was ambitious to reap the benefits from 
Hohenzollern instruction, and practice on other 
neighbors what Frederick had so successfully prac- 
ticed on Austria; but Frederick could not permit 
others — friends or foes — to do to others, not to 
mention to himself, what he would be only too 
happy to do to them. Reciprocity is unknown in 
the Hohenzollern doctrine, and what is right for a 
Hohenzollern is wrong if attempted by any other 
dynasty or country. 

Frederick promptly opposed Joseph's ambitions ; 
he did not honestly announce his reasons for oppos- 
ing Austria's annexation of part of Bavaria, which 
really consisted of his unalterable objection to any 
act which would tend to strengthen an enemy state 
or a state which might some day become an enemy, 
but he heroically and hypocritically assumed the 
pose of the champion and defender of German 
princes against an Emperor who was trampling 
upon their constitutional rights. His real reason, 
he affirmed, was his determination to humble Aus- 


tria's ambitions once for all, and render her impo- 
tent. "I know very well," he admitted to his 
brother Henry, "that it is only our own interest 
which makes it our duty to act at this moment, but 
we must be very careful not to say so." 

Frederick, in 1778, was not the Frederick of the 
three Silesian campaigns of 1740-1763, and Aus- 
tria was really not prepared for war. Both sides 
seemed to desire to negotiate, and although Fred- 
erick marched from Berlin April 6th, he remained 
inactive in Southern Silesia until July 3rd, at which 
time he declared war, and on July 5th marched his 
troops over the mountains into Bohemia. Fred- 
erick was far from well, he was captious and vacil- 
lating and seemed to have lost either the inclination 
or the power of making swift and resolute military 
movements which so characterized his earlier cam- 
paigns. Austria, on the other hand, exhibited good 
judgment and boldness as well as discretion. Fred- 
erick's strategy did not work as anticipated and 
soon his armies suffered from lack of supphes, and 
by the middle of October, Austria saw the last of 
the Prussian invading armies. The movements of 
the Prussians during the early fall of 1778, dic- 
tated largely by hunger, caused the war to be 
known as the Potato War. 

The Prussian army went into winter quarters 
"dejected, ill-disciplined and disaffected," and 
Frederick, although he made plans to invade Mora- 
via in the spring, worked energetically for peace. 
In March, 1779, representatives of Prussia, Aus- 
tria, France and Russia met at Tetschen, and on 
May 13th a peace treaty was signed after an un- 
eventful war, without a pitched battle, but which 


had cost about thirty million thalers, but with, for- 
tunately, a small loss of men. The peace terms 
which terminated what is generally known as the 
War of the Bavarian Succession were somewhat 
favorable to Prussia; the Austrians were granted 
the Innthal, i.e., the part of Lower Bavaria between 
the Inn, Salza and Danube, and Prussia obtained 
the Franconian principalities. The treaty guaran- 
teed by France and Russia again confirmed the 
Peace of Westphalia, but it paved the way for for- 
eign interference in German affairs, a condition 
most unwelcome to Frederick. 


WHEN Maria Theresa died (November 
28th, 1780), Frederick mourned her 
loss with some sincerity, for he felt that 
she was a more or less effective check upoi^ 
the ambitions of her son Joseph. He uninten- 
tionally spoke the truth when he said, "She has 
done honor to her throne and to her sex," but he 
lied when he wrote to that wonderful French 
philosopher and mathematician, Jean d' Alembert, 
"I have made war upon her, but I have never been 
her enemy." Frederick was the bitter enemy of 
Austria, of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Em- 
pire, and of the Hapsburg dynasty. Being utterly 
immoral himself he could not, however, understand 
or truly appreciate morality in others — especially 
when expressed in the person of an Empress or 
sovereign with generally accepted despotic rights. 
Maria Theresa was the loving mother of her peo- 
ple; a high principled, religious and courageous 
woman, with a sublime faith in the ultimate survival 
of truth, justice, and virtue; but no sooner did she 
reach the throne of Austria than the greater part 
of Europe — France, Prussia, Spain, Bavaria, Sax- 
ony, with the Elector Palatine and the Elector of 
Cologne, formed a coalition to despoil her. Maria 
Theresa was the antithesis of Frederick, and never 
in her darkest moments did she show the white 
feather or act cowardly or treacherously. Her 
bravery was as noble as her faith, and if her armies 
had possessed her resolute spirit and her indomit- 


able courage, and if they had been ably led, there 
would have been no second Silesian campaign, no 
Seven Year War, and no Frederick the Great 

Maria Theresa was a queen in fact as well as in 
name, and she ruled her people and created har- 
mony among them by a human appeal unequalled 
in the pages of history. She personally kept Aus- 
tria, Bohemia and Hungary united during a most 
turbulent period, and no ruler has ever lived more 
loyal to a conception of duty. When she signed 
the peace Treaty of Tetschen, on May 13th, 1779, 
thus averting another great European war, she 
YiTote Prince Kaunitz that she had now finished her 
life's journey, her work was done and she could 
sing a Te Deum, for she had secured the repose 
of her people at whatever cost to herself. Her fatal 
illness developed in the Autumn of the following 
year, and she died in her sixty-fourth year. When 
the Austrian Queen lay painfully on her deathbed, 
her son Joseph — afterward Joseph II and Em- 
peror of the Holy Roman Empire — said to her, 
"Mother, you are not at ease," and her last words 
were the answer, "My son, I am sufficiently at my 
ease to die." 

The Prussian King found Maria Theresa a per- 
sistent obstacle to the realization of his ambitions, a 
powerful restraint to his unlicensed piracy, and to 
him she was ever an enigma. He ridiculed her as 
a pliable, weak woman, but found in her a resolute, 
courageous Empress that no military disasters 
could drive to despair, and with a faith in Provi- 
dence that no apparent triumph of force could 
weaken. Frederick sneered at her religious behefs, 
at her love of goodness and at her desire to ad- 


minister, as well as demand, justice. He branded 
her as an ambitious antagonist, "bigoted and hypo- 
critical," but at heart he feared her, for she was his 
superior and immeasurably beyond him in every 
characteristic in the realm of morals, in the attri- 
butes of spirit, and in those qualities which human- 
ity, with judgment mellowed and crystallized in 
truth by time, has been pleased to denote as regal. 
In 1780, Frederick lost the benefit in European 
affairs of the Russian alliance, and Austria, in 
May 1781, entered into a defensive alUance with 
Russia. Frederick feared Prussian isolation, so 
he worked with vigor to form a combination or con- 
federacy of the German states under the leadership 
of Prussia for the benefit of Prussia and the Hohen- 
zoUern dynasty. Frederick had often posed as the 
champion of the German states against the ambi- 
tions of a Romanist Imperial Emperor; he had at 
times assumed the role of the Defender of the 
Protestants, and in the affairs of the Bavarian suc- 
cession, Frederick had capitalized the "motive" of 
his militaristic enterprise, undertaken, he main- 
tained, solely in the interest of a German kingdom 
that was being sacrificed in the interests of an 
unscrupulous, grasping Austrian monarch. He 
affirmed that the Hapsburgs thought only of Aus- 
tria, that they were a menace to the peace and 
security of the independent German states, and 
that only by confederation could the German states 
maintain their liberty and independence. Freder- 
ick, with the true HohenzoUern convenience of f or- 
getf ulness, disregarded his contemptible record with 
respect to Saxony, and ultimately succeeded in get- 
ting the German Princes to favorably consider 


uniting for their common self-defense, although 
they feared Prussia as much as Austria and hesi- 
tated to form any union which might have the in- 
direct effect of making Prussia stronger than 

In January, 1785, Emperor Joseph II practi- 
cally drove the German states into an alliance when 
he again bargained for Bavaria with the Elector 
Palatine, and, with Russian support, made de- 
mands on the Duke of Zweibriicken, the heir of the 
realm. Joseph wanted to make his empire con- 
tinuous, and desired to exchange the Austrian 
Netherlands for Bavaria and a monetary con- 

Joseph had learned much from Frederick, but 
fortunately for the world he did not possess the 
Machiavellian deceit, nor use a well-prepared mili- 
tary force with the quick, resolute stroke which 
characterized the Prussian King in his prime; 
nevertheless, Joseph caused Frederick much con- 
cern and ceaseless worry. "I who am already more 
than half beyond this world," he complained, "am 
forced to double my wisdom and activity and con- 
tinually keep in my head the detestable plans that 
this cursed Joseph begets afresh with every fresh 
day. I am condemned to enjoy no rest before my 
bones are covered with a little earth." 

On July 23rd, 1785, Prussia, Saxony and Han- 
over entered into an alliance, with the object of 
safeguarding the lands and rights of each German 
principality, and in spite of Emperor Joseph's 
diplomatic opposition, the rulers of practically all 
the German kingdoms, states, duchies, etc., joined 
the "Fiirstenbund," or League of Princes, which 


gave Frederick security in his old age. This Al- 
liance or League was not only Frederick's last con- 
tribution to the politics of Europe, but it was the 
first open attempt of militaristic Prussia to take 
the lead in Germany. Frederick kept it alive and 
effective, but it came to an end at his death, which 
occurred August 17th, 1786. 

When Frederick ascended the throne of Prussia 
his kingdom had an area of 46,000 square miles 
and a population of two and a quarter million peo- 
ple; he passed to his heir and nephew, Frederick 
William II, a kingdom increased by 29,000 square 
miles and subjects aggregating over five and a half 
million. The army of 83,000 men which he in- 
herited and which had risen to 135,000 after the 
second Silesian war, varied from 150,000 to 200,- 
000, with a large reserve. 

Frederick was mourned by some of his veteran 
soldiers more for the greatness of his name and the 
fame that had come to Prussia than for the man. 
The Junker nobles and army officers lost their 
leader and great supporter of their exclusive caste, 
but the people of the domain in general, and Berlin 
in particular, rejoiced at his death. Frederick 
made Prussia into a great power among the Euro- 
pean nations, but such absolute despotism in the 
days of the world's awakening to democracy and 
the rights and obligations of man could not endure. 
On the field of Jena, in 1806, twenty years after 
Frederick's death, Prussia paid the price of the 
errors of Frederickism and Hohenzollernism ; half 
the land was wrested from her and she was prac- 
tically disarmed and hemmed in by hostile states. 
Prussia was only rescued from her inglorious plight 


when she repudiated the spirit of despotic Hohen- 
zollernism, flung off the fetters of feudahsm, and, 
inspired by the spirit of hberty, of democracy, of 
humanity and true nationahsm, she overthrew Na-' 
poleon in the Wars of Liberation ; only later, how- 
ever, to be robbed by the Hohenzollerns and Prus- 
sian Junkers of the fruits of victory, and to gravi- 
tate to a slavery made complete by Bismarck, the 
Prussian Junker Chancellor of Blood and Iron, 
and the HohenzoUern King whom he "hoodwinked 
and cajoled" into greatness, and made Emperor 
Wilhelm of the Germans. 

James M. Beck has truly said, "It was the false 
prestige of Frederick the Base, in defending the 
petty principality of Prussia against three-quarters 
of the world, that gave to the German people that 
megalomaniac pride that induced the present great 
war. ... It was the cult of Frederick the Great, 
taught in every German school-house and uni- 
versity, taught even to German children at the 
parental knee, that produced the extraordinary 
reversal of all morality which led the German peo- 
ple into the insane belief that in the community 
of nations there was no morality and that the only 
law was that of brute force." 

Deacidified using the Bookkeeper process. 
Neutralizing agent: Magnesium Oxide 
Treatment Date: AUG ^""^ 



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